Is A Retweet Considered An Endorsment?

Short answer? No.

Longer answer? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.

The default option to retweet using Twitter via the web interface does not offer an opportunity to add context or comments to the tweet. You get to retweet the comment as is, that is your only option. It’s what is referred to as a naked retweet.

The naked retweet was debated last year when the Associated Press issued standards for retweeting by journalists.

the AP rules say reporters should write a lead-in to the material. Instead of simply retweeting a controversial quote from Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, for example, the reporter should preface the retweet with “Gingrich shares view on taxes: RT @newtgingrich…”

“A naked retweet..can certainly suggest that the AP staffer was endorsing that opinion,” Kent says. “Not everyone would think that, but some people would.”
[The Naked Retweet Dilemma – American Journalism Review]

In a recent design change, Twitter added the original author’s name and avatar to the timeline when something has been retweeted. It made clear the distinction that the tweet was the original work of someone else.

I agree with the notion that context for retweets is a good thing to add, but if Twitter does not include that functionality how can we expect all to add it? 3rd party apps like Tweetbot do allow for quoting tweets, and the Twitter desktop app, TweetDeck, allows for this functionality but it is not available on the web interface. If you want to add context, you have to copy the tweet, edit it for length, and then add commentary to the front.

Some organizations have asked that reporters include the disclaimer “links and retweets not considered endorsements,” but just as with the “thoughts and opinions are mine and not employers” disclaimer, it’s something that should be implied and not necessary to announce.

Justin Fenton, a crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun and an avid Twitter user, includes the line in his own profile, but says that it’s essentially a useless tactic to cover himself.

“The people who are going to get upset about it aren’t going to look at that disclaimer,” Fenton says. “I still hear from people who say, ‘I can’t believe you said that the other day and are expressing your opinion.’ Those are people who aren’t familiar with Twitter.”
[The Naked Retweet Dilemma – American Journalism Review]

A retweet cannot be considered an endorsement because Twitter does not provide default tools to add context. A retweet is merely a “Hey! Did you hear?…” or “So this just happened..” It is a reporting tool as much as it is a vehicle for sharing like-minded ideas.

More often than not, a retweet will be something the poster agrees with, however it cannot be assumed as such by default.

Like. Share. Repeat.

The directions to use shampoo are very simply – lather, rinse, repeat. Note there is no end to the directions, it’s an endless loop of lathering and rinsing.

Social media is just like shampoo. The directions are simple – like, share, repeat. And, just as with shampoo, social media is an endless loop of echoing messages rising in a viral crescendo until it reaches all of us, multiple times.


It started in the late 90s with the chain emails. There were jokes, silly ASCII graphics, and of course the ominous messages that told you to “forward this message to 10 people or else you’d be cursed”.

Then there were incentives. Things like Bill Gates promising money if a certain number of people saw an email.

On Facebook, it’s the lure of seeing who’s lurking your page, or the promise of a free coffee, or coupon. We see these phishing schemes all the time, and they don’t spread on their own. Someone has to be gullible enough to click it once, and then they have to have two gullible friends and so on and so on. Like, share, repeat.

The critical thinking of the majority is simply not sophisticated. The short attention span of a generation not willing to wait 3 seconds for a mobile app to load becomes a disability when applying effort to critically evaluate information’s validity before passing it on. If the bait is juicy enough, the reaction is instant – like, share, repeat.

KONY 2012

That missive from Diddy has been passed around more than 65 000 times.

A powerfully persuasive headline is going to get a like. Then it will be shared, and the process will be repeated so quickly that overnight millions of people who can’t identify Uganda on a map will suddenly be “passionate” about finding Joseph Kony.

A well crafted video about child soldiers that opens with a cute kid and a hot hipster dad will connect. And it has.

Generation Like is very quick to like, share, and repeat. Virality grabs these people quickly. It’s much easier to “LIKE” a headline than it is to think critically and examine all sides.

It wasn’t the usual digerati that liked and shared the Kony 2012 video, this one broke in Hollywood. The campaign was set up to hammer Hollywood asking them to pass the message to their followers.

“Celebrities, athletes and billionaires have a loud voice and what they talk about spreads instantly,” filmmaker Jason Russell says in the video.

Celebs are begged for retweets all the time. They’re an easy mark. Bomb them with requests and it’s bow that will break. Once the RT goes out to their millions of Beliebers, it will hit critical mass quickly. Justin Bieber was tweeting about how great the energy was in the studio one minute on Tuesday night, the next he was begging for global action.

A documentary is a very powerfully persuasive tool. They, most often, have a bias to present, an argument to make and are propagandandizing.

Michael Moore is a master at it.

So once Bieber asks his followers (a dozen times in one evening) to watch a video that is very well produced, crafts a strong argument and presents one side of the story, the lemmings will fall in line. Action kits will be bought. More tweets will be sent. Like, share, repeat.


African “millionaires” keep sending emails to us asking for help in wiring money between countries because people still fall for the ruse. We keep getting emails for viagra, because enough of a percentage of people click that link and buy the blue pills.

The Kony 2012 message keeps circulating the web in blanket acceptance because people haven’t looked beyond the headline. Bieber said so, it must be true. This group was on Oprah, it must be true.

My BS filter went off because the tweets I was seeing were from people I didn’t follow. I was being asked to retweet something that was filled with links and hashtags, there was no context. To me, it looked like someone trying to pitch me their friend’s band – #makekonyfamous. I chocked it up to spam, and deleted it.

My feed wasn’t filled with @xeni, @chrisbrogan, @todmaffin, @corydoctorow, and other thought leaders telling the story and championing the cause. It was a deepening lather of like, share, repeat.

So, is Kony 2012 a just cause supported by a questionable organization? Is it a questionable cause? Is it straight up legit?

There is more to this than simply like, share, repeat.


In the end, the instant virality of Kony 2012 is another example of Facebook slacktivism. Like, share, repeat. I’ve done my bit. A like is the modern currency of a charitable donation. Oh, you want me to help your charity? I’ll like it and retweet it and then the thought disappears. The celebrities like to appear charitable to their audience and when they get hammered by a twitter bomb asking the same message, they’ll flinch and share it to make it go away. That was the match to the fuse.

Slacktivism is not change, doing something is change. Like, share, repeat does not change the world, doing something about it does.

But doing something about it requires critical thought. It requires more than just a like, or share. It requires a time commitment. It requires a thought commitment. It requires a commitment. A like is a one night stand, click and move on to the next.


If you really think the Kony 2012 cause is worth supporting, then dig deeper into why the BS filters have gone off around the web.

Here are some articles representing the other side of the issue. I’d love it if you would read, think, repeat.

Yes, Kony is a bad man. Yes, he needs to be brought to justice.

But the video has tweeters in the ether baying for blood seduced by slick editing and a black and white view of a 20-year conflict. It’s a thoughtless call to arms.
[Stop Kony? No, Start Reading]

Kony 2012 is so seductive for precisely the same reasons that make it so dangerous. The half-hour video, now viewed 40 million times, sets viewers up for a message so gratifying and fulfilling that it is almost impossible to resist: there is a terrible problem in the world, you are the solution, and all you have to do is pass along this video. Unless you’re already well-enough informed on Central Africa to see the video’s many flaws — and the vast majority of people, very understandably, are not — only the most guarded skeptic is going to be able to resist.
[The Atlantic]

I honestly wanted to stay as far away as possible from KONY 2012, the latest fauxtivist fad sweeping the web (remember “change your Facebook profile pic to stop child abuse”?), but you clearly won’t stop sending me that damn video until I say something about it, so here goes:

Stop sending me that video.

The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.
[The Daily What]

Extreme Makeover Google Edition

Google is going through an Extreme Makeover, revamping the design of each of their products. While much of the makeover is cosmetic, some of the buttons have moved.

One of the button moves that’s causing a disturbance in the force, is the NEWS button in Google Search.

Previously, you would click the NEWS button at the top and Google would sort stories based on your search term.


Now that NEWS button takes you to Google’s News page.


Tech heavyweights Molly Wood of c|net and Nathaniel Bertram of PaidContent openly wondered what happened to the “sort by news” feature.

“Remember when you could do a @googlesearch and then click News and you’d get news results for your search term? Where’d that go? #justme” – @mollywood

It’s the little things that catch your eye sometimes.
To your average reader the almost microscopic adjustment to Google’s interface would barely register. It is literally a matter of an extra click.
Where once you could move straight from the web search into a news search simply by selecting the different search function in the top bar, you now need to open the news channel and retype your search term.
[Paid Content]

Well, it’s still there, it’s just moved.


The top nav bar is for universal Google navigation, the left side is now to drill down with the page you’re on. Train your hand to click left instead of top and you will still find your search term sorted by news stories.


@mollywood’s reponse was classic:

“That’s just … why!?”

All Of This Almost Never Happened

Steve Jobs is dead. At 56, the biggest visionary of a generation is gone far too soon.

Much will be written of the technological contributions Steve has made. I am writing this on a Macbook with an iPhone in my pocket an iPad on the counter and an Apple TV on the shelf. He revolutionized our lives, it’s true. And it almost never happened.

56 years ago a girl got pregnant. Her parents didn’t approve. All of this almost never happened.

In 1954, Abdulfattah John Jandali and Joanne Simpson were a young couple in Wisconsin. Joanne became pregnant and her parents forbid the couple from marrying. Without notice, the Simpsons left for San Francisco where she would give birth to a boy on February 24, 1955. Days later the infant was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs and given the same Steve.

It almost never happened.

One of the reasons Joanne Simpson was giving her son up for adoption was she was in the middle of her own graduate studies. She insisted that the adoptive family for her son would be an academic one. A lawyer and his wife agreed to adopt her child, but when a boy was born, they withdrew. They wanted a girl.

Paul and Clara Jobs, a high school dropout and college dropout were next on the list. Simpson hesitated and refused to sign the adoption papers until the couple promised that Steve would go to college. They promised and the adoption went though.

It was only a few years ago that Jobs’ birth father, now 80 year old casino vice president in Reno, found out Steve Jobs was his son. He told his story to the Daily Telegraph and admits that apart from a few unresponded emails sent to Jobs on his birthday, he had had no contact with his son.

Jobs never spoke about his biological father, but did keep in touch with Joanne Simpson inviting her to some of his family gatherings. In a 1997 New York Times article he appeared grateful for her long-ago decision to have him and put him up for adoption.

“There was never any acrimony between us,” he says. Yet, biological roots aside, Jobs holds a firm belief that Paul and Clara Jobs were his true parents. A mention of his “adoptive parents” is quickly cut off. “They [were] my parents,” he says emphatically. [source]

Thank you Steve, but, more importantly thanks to Paul and Clara Jobs for opening their hearts, their homes and their lives.

Without them, we wouldn’t have this.

Disclosure: This subject is close to me. My wife is adopted. All of my life as I know it almost never happened too.

Is Geoblocking Unethical?

Globe Technology posed a twitter question this morning:

So tweeps, do you consider jumping geoblocks in order to access content we can’t get in Canada as unethical?

I hate to answer a question with a question, but let’s spin that back on it’s head and ask the opposite: Does the simple act of geoblocking make any sense?

Information wants to be free. Throw up a paywall or a geoblock and someone will find a way to tunnel under, jump over or blast through the obstruction.

We saw a perfect example with Canada’s 41st Election. Elections Canada insisted that Canadians not tweet the results before all the polls were closed under threat of a steep fine or jail time. In the end, many Canadians violated the ban brazenly, while others simply emailed the results to friends outside Canada and had them tweet the results. Ban violated, no rules broken.

When I stumble into a piece of content that has been geoblocked – usually it’s Saturday Night Live clips on Hulu – I’ll simply go to YouTube to get the content free from shackles.

There are ways to mask your IP address to get access to content from outside of restricted borders – people do that to get Hockey Night in Canada streams .

Is geoblocking unethical? Is violating geoblocks unethical? Neither answer matters, because the internet has no borders.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

The Twitter Election

Here we go again, Canada is heading to the polls on May 2 – our 4th election in the past 7 years.  The only thing excellent about this track record of fallen minority governments is that party finances are getting tapped and they need to explore new ways to campaign.  That means social media is about to get even more important this time round.

Here are the tools you can use to get engaged.

politwitter.jpgThe CBC has a great Vote Compass tool on their website that asks you questions based on the issues, how you feel about the parties and candidates and then places your X on the political spectrum.  It’s a great way to see how you fit in with each of the political parties.

Twitter has been used by the leaders before, but it was mostly a broadcast medium, this time there is engagement.  The leaders (or their team tweeting for them) are answering tweets from regular people while on the campaign trail.  I had an exchange with Michael Ignatieff the day the writ was dropped, Stephen Harper was also answering tweets.

Here are the accounts of the federal leaders and their parties.

Stephen Harper @pmhaper – Conservative Party of Canada
Michael Ignatieff @m_ignatieff – Liberal Party of Canada @liberal_party
Jack Layton @jacklayton –  NDP
Gilles Duceppe @gillesduceppe – Bloc Quebecois
Elizabeth May @elizabethmay – Green Party of Canada @canadiangreens

You can also follow the discussion by all Canadians on Twitter by monitoring the hashtags #cdnpoli and #elxn41.

2011-03-23-App-Badge-310h-EN.jpgIn the past elections, it has been the NDP that were quick to mobilize to social media.  They appreciated you need to give the online campaign over to your fans and hand them the tools to spread the message.  And they’re doing it again – on the opening day of the campaign they had an app. (The only party to be in the App Store)

The tools the Greens bring out will be interesting to watch as Elizabeth May, in her opening speech, laid the groundwork for a social media campaign because the party is not as flush with green as the others.

We do have election fatigue in Canada, it’s true.  This election came from seemingly out of nowhere and there is no lightning rod issue to polarize the electorate.  But still, we have a choice.  Thousands are marching and dying on the streets of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya to have that choice.  Our best way of honouring their plea is to respect our right and exercise it.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

buzz bishop future shop tech blogThis post was originally published at The Future Shop Tech Blog.

3 Twitter Tips For Politicians

When Naheed Nenshi was elected in a come from behind victory to become Mayor of Calgary, many pundits were blaring headlines about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and social media as the reasons for his sudden rise to fame.

While that helped build his momentum, it really just spread a message about a man that was honest, organic and authentic. He just didn’t throw up a Twitter account and website and make some videos the day he decided he wanted to be mayor, he had the accounts rolling long before then.

Christy Clark is the new premier of BC this weekend. She narrowly won her party’s leadership despite a total lack of an authentic social media campaign. She had some very smart people in her campaign quarters, but she just didnt latch on to the platform like Nenshi. (in private messages between myself and those involved in the Clark campaign, it appeared they hadnt even HEARD of the Nenshi model for success)

Like many politicians, our Prime Minister included, Clark’s twitter stream is an rss feed of announcements. A bullhorn broadcasting bullet points and press releases. There is no engagement. None. Not one “@” reply in her entire stream since she decided to enter the race for premier.

Alberta is experiencing a changing tide, just as BC. And, just as BC, the candidates are flocking to Twitter to try and bring their message to the fore. Alison Redford went so far as to announce her candidacy for the Alberta Conservative leadership on her twitter account. The problem? That was her first ever tweet.

If Twitter is good enough to get you elected as leader of your party, shouldn’t it be good enough to engage the electorate and represent your constituents?

1. Get on it .. now.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a minister, a backbencher or just an envelope stuffer for the party. Get your social media ducks in a row now and engage with the electorate. Share your ideas, engage in conversations and forward the message of your brand and the party.

2. Dont let anyone do it for you.
Nobody knows the password to Naheed Nenshi‘s twitter account except Naheed. He is the one tweeting. Not an assistant, an intern or the party. HE does it. The same should be true for politicians. I get you’re busy and have a huge portfolio to manage, but a few seconds in your seat before the plane takes off to detail what’s happening, a twitpic of you and your kids at a hockey tournament, or an @ reply to a constituent will go far.

3. Engage.
Your Twitter feed is not a microphone. It is a tool for engagement that works both ways. If you simply blow press announcements and policy points, you are missing the key part of social media – being social.

Can you imagine if, every now and again, Stephen Harper pulled a Steve Jobs and randomly responded to a few tweets? Jobs is famous for responding directly to emails with a few words and the media explodes with the exchanges minutes later. The result? Steve is a human being that listens to the rest of us and doesn’t sit in an ivory tower with no elevator. The exchanges are brief and infrequent, but they happen. Harper doesn’t have to answer every question, the ones he does he can keep to his message, but the authenticity points that would be gained by simply replying to the people would be immeasurable.

Since Naheed Nenshi became Mayor, Calgary’s city council has exploded in engagement. Alderman John Mar disappeared for a few months after buckling under the pressure of the immediate interaction, but has was encouraged to return. Richard Pootmans had a very uneffective social media campaign to get elected in Ward 6, but since the election he has become far more interactive via Facebook and Twitter to mine his constituency for feedback.

In the heated unlimited bandwidth battle between Canadian ISP’s, the CRTC and users, MP Tony Clement hasn’t shied away from Twitter. Actually, Twitter has been the place many of the government’s policies on the topic have been first released.

2011 promises to be a busy year for elections in Canada. We could see them in BC, Alberta and even the federal government is not entirely stable.

Will the parties toss up social media sites because they think they “have” to, or will they actually recognize the power of influencing the influencers and engage in deep, authentic and real conversations?

In the 2008 Federal Election, only the NDP truly appreciated the power of social media by turning the tools over to the public to spread the message. They had widgets, icons, avatars and more.

David Brodie, a former advisor to Paul Martin, summed up the efforts of the other parties with one word.

“Weak,” he wrote in a chat conducted via Twitter. “All could learn from Gordon Brown and Obama. Should [be] engaging users rather than pushing out their msg with new tools.”

3 full years ago the tools were available, the trails were blazed and the opportunity was there. They’re there, but they’re not being used effectively. Until more game changers like Nenshi enter the sphere, the campaigns will continue to be a blast of same-as-it-ever-was run by professional politicians and party insiders speaking in circular soundbites and avoiding the campaign in full sentences at all costs.

It’s too bad.

Direct Energy Nest

cyberbuzz on air 09|20 – 09|24

09|20 - YouTube Live

Live video on the internet is nothing new. Services like JustinTV, UStream and Qik have shown that we can be our own broadcasters and put anything we want onto the web very easily.

However, when the biggest video site on the web thinks about going from taped to live, it’s a big step.

09|21 – 3DTV Glasses

Is 3D TV here to stay? As we get in to the big fall gadget buying season – that means big tvs for football and sports, people are once again being asked to consider 3DTV.

But, according to new surveys, we’re a little resistant to jumping into the new technology. And it’s not because it’s expensive or it doesnt work, it’s because of the glasses.

09|22 – The New Twitter

If you access Twitter through the official website, you’ll notice a change in the site’s layout. It has started to bring in some of the functionality that third party apps offer by giving you a wider range of options when viewing your twitter stream than just seeing the tweets.

09|23 – Halo Reach

Titanic and Avatar may be the biggest movies of all time, but Hollywood’s got nothing on the kind of revenue being generated by the video game industry.

Halo Reach dropped last week and the prequel to one of the video game industry’s biggest franchises hit more than $200M – on its first day.

09|24 – The Situation App

The Situation
is breaking out the dancing shoes this week for a turn on Dancing WIth the Stars, but he’s also finding some time to squeeze in a little GTL and when you need to hit the gym, tan, or do your laundry what do you do? Well, there’s an app for that – actually, an app from the Situation.

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