When a tweet goes berserk

It was with good intentions that I tweeted Robert Arnason’s on-the-farm article about the mink producers from Ontario with the #farm365 hash tag, but the road to Twitter hell is paved with such naivety.

OK, Twitter hell is too strong a description for what I experienced. It was more like a mildly annoying Twitter purgatory level, where every time I looked at my phone there were dozens of notifications from social media animal activists tweeting, retweeting or favouriting brutal photos of animal abuse to me — a lesson to me for promoting the fur industry.

Not that I was promoting the fur industry.

People use Twitter accounts in many ways. I use my account to put forward quality journalism about agriculture or from-the-farm pictures by some of the many Canadian producers I follow.

I don’t necessarily agree with every story I tweet, and there is usually more to a topic than any story can cover. However, if I think the story is interesting, I send it out to my Twitter followers because they too may appreciate the read.

Much of the negative Twitter attention I received stemmed from my use of the #farm365 hash tag in the tweet.

If you haven’t been following that saga of #farm365 on Twitter, I’ll give you the Coles notes.

Ontario dairy producer Andrew Campbell decided to showcase his farm and challenge some of the misconceptions of animal mistreatment within the dairy industry by tweeting a photo from his farm every day for a year with #farm365.

However, it didn’t take long for #farm365 to become a battleground between animal activists and farmers.

Many producers continue to tweet pictures of their farming activities using #farm365, often in an attempt to stand in solidarity with fellow producers and behind their own farm practices.

In an age where social media is awash with misinformation when it comes to agriculture, #farm365 is a good campaign to help farmers communicate directly to consumers.

Instead of stewing about how agricultural industry critics seem to be able to exert their perspective so efficiently on social media, producers can use Twitter to insert their point of view into the dialogue.

You will not convince a vegan to eat veal and you will likely be attacked for standing up for your beliefs and vocation, but that’s OK and better than the alternative, which is to let people who know nothing about you define you.

You can always ignore or block users you think aren’t adding anything positive to the conversation.

As well, there are opportunities to hear concerns that some commentators have about agricultural practices.

robin.booker@producer.com

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