Monday, April 08, 2013

Twitter doesn't love Paris in the springtime.

A Twitter storm has been raging over the appointment of 17-year-old Paris Brown as as Britain’s first Youth Police and Crime Commissioner. She's only a few days into her £15,000 a year post, yet, her competence has been questioned by national newspapers and thousands of Twitter users. 

The problem has been caused by tweets that she sent between the ages of 14 and 16, which have been described as offensive, homphobic and drug-related. There's little doubt that the language she used was strong, and the comments very direct, but should she's still very young, and has offered a full apology. 

I suspect that if the social media feeds of most young teenagers were analysed, it would be easy to find something to complain about. The question is, should the sorts of daft things that teenagers say be held against them in future? In another more adult sphere, John O'Farrell, the Labour candidate in the recent Eastleigh by-election, was pilloried for a statement he made about Margaret Thatcher many years ago.

In matters of reputation, public judgement always comes into play. What matters is whether people have enough support to ride out the storm, or whether their past behaviour will forever make them "damaged goods". A quick and heartfelt apology always helps, but at the end of the day, it's the opinion of the people they serve that matters. Will they be able to do their job in future, and will people have confidence in them? It looks to me as though the pressure to remove Miss Brown has reached such a peak that it will be hard for her to remain in post, despite the support of her sponsor.

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