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How a Caps Lock hashtag ended in a court case

Posted on March 18, 2021

 

There’s an age-old debate over how we should use capital letters in online writing, but a recent case has showed just how polarising this can be, and how fiercely online marketers will defend their use of upper or lower case lettering.

Overuse of capital letters makes us think the person behind the keyboard is simmering with rage and struggling to control their emotions, and may be associated with an old-fashioned use of computers. This, according to the Metro, was the basis for a recent court case, where a marketer took criticism of her capitalised hashtags personally.

Lydia Roganovic sued her former employer, London-based iPlato Healthcare Ltd., for unfair dismissal, and one of the key arguments she used was that she was told by a younger employee that capitalising tweets like “#SAVE1WOMANSLIFEPERWEEK” was “a bit old-school”.

Roganovic, 50, felt that she was being discriminated against because of her age. In typical Caps Lock lover’s fashion, she replied to this criticism in an email full of capital letters, stressing that the “MAIN POINT OF THE POST” was “SAVING WOMENS LIVES”.

The Metro says Judge Bernard Hodgson rejected the claim that describing a practice as “old school” was an example of age discrimination, noting that it simply refers to old-fashioned practices and could apply to young people too, but the case is an example of how passionate people can be about this matter.

Some news sources, such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express, have taken to regularly printing certain words of headlines in capital letters for emphasis, as in “EU may SEIZE life-saving vaccines…” (published by the Daily Express today).

On social media, although former US President Donald Trump was known for his frequent and often incorrect capitalisations in tweets before his Twitter access was removed, it’s usually seen as poor form to regularly use the Caps Lock key, as readers tend to think they are being shouted at.

At Engage Web, we think capitalisations should be used sparingly on Twitter, and rarely if ever in hashtags. They may help drive a point home, but this is no substitute for well-written, engaging content – something we can provide for you both on social media and your website.

John Murray
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