Absolutely. When there is a major local or national disaster, massive breaking news story (even if it's a good one), or any other event or conversation that's dominating Twitter or the news cycle, it's best to go silent until it passes.
Imagine going back in time to the 9/11 attacks, when not only TV ads but all TV shows went off the air. How would you have felt about a sitcom that ignored the national zeitgeist and kept to its regular airing schedule?
Accounts that continue posting to Twitter as if the event isn't taking place look, at best, clueless and at worst, uncaring.
"The key things to remember," said social media consultant Christie Keith, "are to be sensitive to the tone of the moment on Twitter, to be a real human being and respond accordingly, and to be helpful when you can." Here are her three top tips to navigating a major Twitter event successfully:
1. Turn off scheduled Tweets. "If a major event is generating huge interest on Twitter, unschedule your pre-staged Tweets and don't send any out until things have quieted down," she advised.
2. Be careful about even statements of support. "If a disaster is relevant to your cause, it's okay to make a single post expressing support," she said. "But don't insert yourself in the conversation just to be there. For example, If there's a local disaster, it's fine to express concern for your adopters and volunteers in the community, but after that, stay out of it."
3. Offer genuine help. "In cases of natural disasters, fires and similar events," Keith said, "it's a great thing if animal shelters and rescue groups post information about how animal owners can get help and resources. Evacuation locations, useful phone numbers, where they can get crates, shelters that take pets, emergency boarding -- all these things belong on Twitter, with the relevant hashtags."
To get an idea of how Twitter is handling a breaking story or disaster, check the nationwide trending topics here.