Earlier this week I had to take time to think before I responded to two different Tweets to me. One of which I discussed with a manager before answering. I know I did right in my answers, but I still feel, well, dirty about it.

My mantra in using social media has always been: Be Smart. Social networks are tools you decide how to use; you don’t let them use you. This includes doing all you can to know with whom you’re interacting and why.

First I responded to a Tweet from a journalist at a competing media outlet. If you didn’t read this person's bio you might not know what his job is, but I read every bio of every person I respond to and read the bios before I follow anyone. So I knew who I was talking to and why he’d asked me the question.

Sometimes it’s okay to play nice with the competitor. I admit though it went against my natural instinct.  This person asked me if information he had was the same as the information I had. I thought about two things before answering honestly and saying yes the information was the same:

First, I thought about how long the photographer we had at the scene had been there and if we’d lose anything by saying we had the same information. The answer was no, we wouldn’t lose anything. The photographer had been on scene for a while getting good video and the Public Information Officer was there talking to media.

Second*, the journalist didn't ask me to give him information he didn't have. He asked me to verify I had same information as he did. I would never give a competing journalist exclusive information,** but I felt in this case I was fine confirming the information.

The second Tweet asked me a question about changes in the station’s news programming. Normally, I answer all programming questions without thinking about it. This time however the Tweet came from person who has chosen to keep his/her identity secret and writes a blog discussing and analyzing the local television newscasts.

I’ve Tweeted back and forth with this person before, but I am always aware of what I’m saying and I know at any moment my Tweet could be used as a quote, or used as a source. (Now, the same can be said for all my Tweets, all my facebook posts, all my social networking interactions. I’m always aware of this.) To not know who this person is and what, if any, motivation there is in the question, is what bothered me.

I decided before I responded to the Tweet that I should discuss it with a manager. I never doubted I wouldn’t give an answer, but I wanted to make sure my wording was acceptable. It was, so I responded. Now I’ll watch to see how, if at all, my answer will be used by this person.

I feel I was right in my decisions and answers, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t rush home to shower to get that slight dirty feeling washed off!***

*I'm pregnant and have found myself losing words, phrases and even entire thoughts. I lost this second point when I originally sat down to write this post a few days ago and was so very frustrated! I wrote the rest of the blog without the second thought, but was determined to get the thought back again. Out of nowhere tonight while sitting on the news desk, the thought popped into my head!  Just had to share cause I'm too excited not to!

**I know my Twitter stream is being monitored by other journalists and media outlets. I'm always aware of what I'm posting. I protect exclusivity when necessary. There have been events I'll Tweet about knowing I won't be able to send a news crew to it. In that case I share all information knowing full well what I'm Tweeting may be the tip off to another media outlet to send a crew.

***Who am I kidding? I'm pregnant and currently still exhausted ALL THE TIME. I didn't take a shower when I got home. I ate a little something to stave off the nausea through the night and I went straight to bed.