Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today

Mediator's Tweet Gets Him "Iced" from Case

by Jeff Thompson
December 2012

Enjoy Mediation Blog by Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson

I am definitely an unofficial advocate of conflict resolution professionals using and embracing technology for all different reasons. This includes keeping up to date with news and research, networking, and raising awareness of your name and services.

The story out of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services offers some caution to embracing technology. One of FMCS mediators had to be removed from the NHL mediation session due to, according to an article:

full article [HERE]

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal mediators are entering the stalled NHL labor talks, with the season's first 2½ months already lost because of the lockout.

George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said Monday the parties had agreed to use the agency. He assigned three mediators to assist negotiations - deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh, director of mediation services John Sweeney and Commissioner Guy Serota - who was removed later in the day because of a Twitter account that may have been tampered with...

...Cohen said Serota was removed because "within one hour after I issued a press release ... it has been called to my attention that there are issues involving an allegedly hacked Twitter account associated with Commissioner Guy Serota." He said Serota was removed "to immediately dispel any cloud on the mediation process, and without regard to the merits of the allegations."

For those wondering what does that mean, I too was left scratching my head. Did Serota say something he wasn't suppose? Did someone hack the account and post something? Unfortunately the article mentioned no further on the issue.

A quick search of "sertota removed" reveals a Yahoo! Sports blog article providing the full information. Basically, Guy made "several partisan political" comments as well as "featuring a slew of off-color jokes." See attached screenshot of a tweet made by the account.

The article mentions an ESPN writer was able to speak with Guy who did say his account was hacked. I suggest reading the entire article to get Guy's comments and the subsequent analysis of the author. Read the article [HERE].

What can be a takeaway from this? Should you abandon you twitter account? I'd say no, but like what we say in a mediation session, be careful what you say and in this case tweet. A mediation session is a private interaction. Although tweets can be done in privacy, the whole world can see them. Although you might delete the tweets, they can still existing on computers- forever.

As far as security, make sure you take measures to reduce your account from getting hacked. Make sure passwords include letters, numbers, and a symbol character. Also, if you access your twitter account from your mobile phone, ensure your phone has a password/lock feature so in case you lose your phone, people do not automatcially get access to your twitter and other accounts.

A final note to consider- if you are going to mention the organization you work for yet the tweets are not official, consider adding some along the lines of "Tweets are my own/do not represent any org" to at least try and clarify the difference. Then again, consider if it is worth including your company in your profile if the account is private.




Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)

Email Author
Author Website

Additional articles by Jeff Thompson