Social Media Advice: Splitting Work, Life On Twitter

Social media experts Baratunde Thurston and Deanna Zandt answer listener questions about how to behave in the digital age. This week's question — should you have two separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional use?

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Every few weeks on All Tech, we tackle your social media conundrums. And here to answer today's question about how to behave in the digital age are Baratunde Thurston, former digital director at The Onion and author of the book "How to be Black," and Deana Zandt, author of "Share This: How You Will Change The World With Social Networking."

Our question today comes from a listener in Damascus, Maryland, who asks: Should you have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional use?

DEANNA ZANDT: For the most part, most people I believe should only have one Twitter account because it ultimately just gets too confusing when you try to figure out, well, does this belong in this one, or the other one?

BARATUNDE THURSTON: Right.

ZANDT: The other thing is that, you know, some people do have kind of, we call it lockdown or private Twitter accounts, where only a few people can see and you allow different people to see.

THURSTON: It's a secret society.

ZANDT: But you also run the risk of people accidentally re-sharing and re-tweeting...

THURSTON: Oh, yes.

ZANDT: ...your private information that you've shared to your private account.

THURSTON: I hope we're getting to a place where those co-workers aren't super judgmental.

ZANDT: Right.

THURSTON: But it is safe to assume, you know, if you don't want anyone to know it, don't put it in a digital medium whatsoever.

ZANDT: So I suggest people just be very conscious and intentional about what they're sharing online and have one account to rule them all.

THURSTON: Oh, like "The Ring."

ZANDT: Like "The Ring."

THURSTON: Awesome. And then you throw that account into the fires of Mount Doom when you're done with it. I used to blog pseudonomous - pseudo...

ZANDT: Numinous?

THURSTON: I blogged under a pseudonym.

(LAUGHTER)

THURSTON: There's a word in there.

(LAUGHTER)

THURSTON: Couldn't figure it out. Here's the deal. I ended up collapsing that alternate identity into my own because of what you described. The management of two personalities is not only an impossible psychological condition but just extra brainwork that ultimately I couldn't reconcile and doing that extra labor.

ZANDT: I'm going to go setup a new Twitter account real quick.

THURSTON: You do that. I'm going to set up three more.

CORNISH: That's Baratunde Thurston and Deanna Zandt, our Emily Posts of the social media age. Have a question for our experts? Email it to alltech@npr.org.

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