Swearing To Do Good

Most people who who live in a family situation are very familiar with the concept of a ‘swear jar’. Being hit in the pocket tends to rapidly focus language away from the profane. Here’s a clever adaption of this principle.

The brainchild of James Dow and Jay Gelardi, Charity Swear Box aims to convert the foul to the beneficial. It is a decidedly novel way of using Twitter content and converting it into a not for profit donation.

Charity Swear Box is constantly on the look out for naughty swear words on Twitter. Simply enter your Twitter name in the search box on the site’s homepage and they will check all your past twitterings for any sign of a swear word.

These are added up and and Charity Swear Box then suggests an amount to donate to your favourite charity.

Recipient charities currently include UNICEF, PETA and WWF amongst other worthy causes, and they are on the look out for more to add to the list.

There are those who believe that swearing the workplace is a positive thing. In 2006 university research culminated in a paper “Indecent influence: The positive effects of obscenity on persuasion“.

Apparently dropping an expletive at the beginning or end of a speech significantly  increases the “persuasiveness of the speech and the perceived intensity of the speaker”.  It does no damage to your reputation either, according to the report’s authors.

What could these findings mean for business tweets I wonder, and by extension, the coffers of the Charity Swear Box?

Most social media does not have a check-box to report swearing in posts, or to filter out the profane.  Facebook’s former reporting screen was one such example. Twitter also shies clear of make any judgment on swearing.



Maybe the final word in the swearing debate should go to Mark Twain who said “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer“.

Have Your Say: Is swearing acceptable in social media?

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is a retired international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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