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.

BBC Breaks News By Breaking Twitter

The BBC broke news this week when they said reporters are not allowed to break news via Twitter.

More than 2 years after the CBC declared an ‘online first’ mandate for their newsroom and after many other are flocking to the social networks to promote their stories, newscasts, and provide real-time updates to stories as they happen, the BBC is turning back the clock – sort of.

“When they have some breaking news, an exclusive or any kind of urgent update on a story, they must get written copy into our newsroom system as quickly as possible, so that it can be seen and shared by everyone – both the news desks which deploy our staff and resources (like TV trucks) as well as television, radio and online production teams.”

Really what the Beeb is trying to do is close the barn door before all the horses get out. In an era of daily death hoaxes and false leads, Twitter can quickly become a game of broken telephone.

The BBC is trying to bring a moment of sober second thought to the breaking news method. By alerting the news desk of a hot story, all channels can be on the same page and facts can be verified by the entire team. News can still be broken quickly, but it will be done – hopefully – without killing a man before he’s dead.

Last August, ESPN implemented a similar guideline preventing reporters from breaking news on Twitter. They also urged their reporters to think before they tweet or re-tweet.

Many called out that decision as a feeble attempt by the network to strangle new media with the traditions of the old.

Other news outlets are responding to the shifting technical tides of journalism as well. The UK’s Sky News and the Associated Press have each updated the rules of retweeting.

Sky News is banning journos from retweeting saying that when you retweet, you endorse the content of the tweet as factual. Without an editor to verify the information, Sky believes that accurate reporting is at risk.

So, to reiterate, don’t tweet when it is not a story to which you have been assigned or a beat which you work.

Where a story has been Tweeted by a Sky News journalist who is assigned to the story it is fine, desirable in fact, that it is retweeted by other Sky News staff.

Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter. Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process”.
[The Drum]

The Associated Press is warning journalists against ‘naked retweets‘ saying that context must be added before blankly passing along the words of another.


While the traditional media is grappling with the new way of doing things and trying to rationalize old school ethics with new school breaking news, Twitter has tossed up an entire section on how newsrooms and journalists can use Twitter. There are best practices, strategies for search, tools, branding, display guidelines, tips for effective tweeting, and many more sections.

Twitter is doing it right, building a bridge between new and old:

We want to make our tools easier to use so you can focus on your job: finding sources, verifying facts, publishing stories, promoting your work and yourself—and doing all of it faster and faster all the time.

We know you come from different generations. Some are native to the pilcrow, others to the hashtag. You began your careers in different media: radio, print, broadcast, online and mobile. But you share a common bond: the desire to make a difference in the world, bringing reliable information to the communities you serve.

The question is: Will old media cross that bridge and listen to the natives who will guide them through the new media wilderness?

Twitter Is More Important Than Facebook

If you could only live with one social network, which would you choose? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? LinkedIn? Pinterest?

Despite filing public offerings and having an estimated value of $100B, Facebook showed it is not the powerhouse it thinks it is this week.

Where did the conversation happen about the IPO? Where did the news break? Where were the links to comments and analysis?


How many of you saw detailed discussions of the happenings of the day on your Facebook wall? Not likely. My Facebook feed was clogged with pictures of battleshots and Super Bowl ad teases.

Twitter is a flowing river of news and no matter how “active” Facebook‘s news feed has been made to be in the past little while, it can’t keep up to the pace of Twitter.

I can follow hashtags to track conversations, I can breadcrumb conversations between influentials. I don’t know about you, but even though I can “subscribe” to different feeds on Facebook, I’ve done none of it. Facebook is a personal place where I go to talk about my kids, see what my sister is up to and converse with colleagues.

Twitter is where I go to get news and to interact and engage. It was no wonder that when the IPO was filed this started being passed around:

It’s true. Even Bill Gates, engaging in a Facebook chat the day after the IPO news, took to Twitter to publicize the event.

Twitter is fluid. Facebook is static. I like my social news to move.

Tweetbot Is The New, New, New Twitter

New, New Twitter was the name given to the redesign of our 140 character obsession last week and it seems the masses have spoken: they don’t like it.

“They’re simplifying Twitter. They’re confining it to four spaces — Home, Connect, Discover, Me — and hoping we’ll forget about the good features that they’ve taken away.”
– The New Twitter For iPhone, We Hate It Too 

“It’s a bold new move for Twitter, which is good because the company hasn’t made many bold new bets.
But, it’s alienating for the current crop of users who know how the service works, know how to follow people they want to follow for news, and don’t care about the news passed around by the masses on Twitter.”

Everything That’s Wrong With The New Twitter iPhone App

“By adding more features, the new Twitter seems to be trying to do two things at once: make it more compelling as a social networking platform, while at the same time making it easier for the uninitiated to grasp. I think Twitter will likely fail on both counts.”
– The New Twitter Leaves Me Disconnected

I involved Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey in a discussion I was having with a colleague about the redesign and he replied that it’s still a work in progress.

They’d better work fast because it looks like people are jumping ship and the big beneficiary appears to be Tweetbot.

“I don’t care for the new Twitter app much at all. But I switched to Tweetbot on my iPhone months ago. “
The New Twitter (RIP Tweetie)

That Tweetbot endorsement from John Gruber has sent sales of the app soaring.  Especially after they dropped the price from $2.99 to just 99c.

“Tweetbot has been shooting up the iPhone App Store charts, according to App Annie. It’s currently the no. 34 paid iPhone app, down from no. 16 on Saturday, but up from no. 708 a couple of weeks ago. That has been good for business — its top-grossing rank has also surged.”
– SplatF

I have completely deleted the official Twitter app from my iPhone and while I test drove the new Tweetdeck desktop app, I quickly deleted it to stick with Hootsuite and the older Adobe Air version of Tweetdeck.

Tweetbot is clean, it’s intuitive, it has similar functionality to the old new Twitter.  It respects screen space, and you can dodge easily between conversations and screens with customizable swipes and taps.  There’s no suggestive upselling via Twitter’s urge to have us Discover.  

And with the removal of Twitter from my iPhone, I’m not getting the pings on my screen via Notification Centre so I’m less distracted by my device calling me to interact on the internet.   I get what I need to get done and then I’m out.

What about you? Have you ditched New New Twitter for another app?

Twitter Gives You Access

If you Tweet, they will respond. Want some proof?

I’ve exchanged with some pretty cool people on Twitter. On the celeb side I’ve giggled when getting @ replies from Colin and Justin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and The Bachelor host Chris Harrison.

On the political side, Twitter has helped me engage with leaders and their staff. I’ve had Twitter exchanges with Elizabeth May, Michael Ignatieff, Tony Clement and Gilles Duceppe. I’ve tweeted with my Mayor Naheed Nenshi, my Alderman Richard Pootmans, various provincial candidates, Wild Rose Leader Danielle Smith and Stephen Carter, the Alberta Premier’s Chief of Staff.

I’ve also used Twitter to have questions answered by brands like Shaw, Starbucks, WestJet and RBC.

Twitter has given me access. None of those people would answer my call if I phoned their offices, but they did answer my tweet.

The latest Twitter exchange came with the man who invented this beautiful machine, Jack Dorsey.

As with many over the weekend, my pal JP Holecka was venting some frustration about the New, New Twitter. I responded, and look who was listening.

JP and I have the same frustrations with the new new Twitter that others have been detailing, none better than Gruber at Daring Fireball.

Twitter 4.0 for iPhone lacks the surprise, delight, and attention to detail of a deserving successor to Tweetie, offering instead a least common denominator experience that no one deserves.

When I replied to JP, I just included @Jack in a conversation about the new design. I didn’t @ him specifically, still – he was listening and he responded. You don’t have to follow everybody on Twitter. It’s about eavesdropping, its about listening about paying attention when it matters, as Jack did. Now if he can just bring the old app designs back.

Hootsuite or Tweetdeck?

How do you tweet?

I admit I’m a power user, I’ve amassed more than 50 000 tweets in the 4 years of using the service.  (12k a year, 1k a month, 30 a day).  I’m particular about my user experience and I’ve been a Tweetdeck fan for years.

For the past month, however, I’ve been living in Hootsuite trying to get a handle on how to use the other popular app that my mentor, Tod Maffin, is always raving about.

First things first: I prefer a desktop experience.  I never do full screen windows for my workflow.  I like to quickly move between tasks and having one app open full screen while I work in a small corner of it bothers me.

So I like having Tweetdeck full screen in the background while I have other tiles on top. Hootsuite is mostly a browser app. If you’re tab happy, you’ll like the clean way it tucks into the dozen other tabs you have open in your browser.

There is a workaround to get Hootsuite on your Mac desktop, it involves using Fluid to “appify” the browser experience for the desktop.  And it works fine for me.

The main differences between the two is how they update their tweets.  Tweetdeck is more consistent.  Every few seconds an icon will pop up showing me how many new tweets are in my hashtags, stream and those that mention me.  It’s easy.

Hootsuite doesn’t have that conistent flow.  Instead of a few tweets showing up every few seconds, 30 or more fly in every minute.  I find it harder to consume the content on Hootsuite because it’s served up in meals instead of snacks.

Hootsuite also doesn’t lock the columns to the top.  Anytime new content shows up, the window stays at the last tweet you read.  I can’t simply peek around my open window to see the tweets floating in behind. I have to click in and scroll to the top thus interrupting my work flow.

Hootsuite does have it over Tweetdeck in a number of categories.  While both let you manage multiple accounts, Hootsuite actually drops you “in” to the account through the tabs.  I can set up search columns in Tweetdeck to monitor multiple @’s, but Hootsuite gives you a unique window for each account you manage helping you to filter and track the content for each account.

Then there’s cost. Tweetdeck is 100% free, Hootsuite works with a freemium model.  You can manage a couple of accounts and get access to some of the features for free, the more detailed and deep you want your experience, the more it’s going to cost (starting at $5/mo).

Hootsuite’s proprietary short code also gives you a great way to track your links.  It’s much easier for me to see which content is sticky, which links need another push and what kind of links are more attractive to my followers.

HOOTSUITE WINS: analytics, multiple account management

TWEETDECK WINS: free, updates, native desktop, customizable

In the end, i’s a tie.  I wish Tweetdeck had better account management and analytics, I wish Hootsuite had a smoother flow of tweets in the stream. Anyone want to create a Hootdeck?

Which Twitter manager do you use?

This article was originally published at The Future Shop’s Tech Blog.

Famous Last Tweets: Heavy D’s Final Words

Mona Simpson‘s eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, made headlines around the world when she revealed his final words.

Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.

Those were the final syllables he spoke to his family around his bedside before he drifted off to death hours later. Jobs didnt have a Twitter account, so those are the final words we have from him.

Mitch Joel encourages people to take inventory of their Twitter account every now and again. The Twitter Test asks that you scroll back over what you’re saying to make sure you’re on message, being respectful and to look at your stream from the point of you of an employer. It’s a good way to stay on point. Here’s another perspective – what if that was your last tweet. Your epitaph. Your final words online. Would you like what it says?

Rapper Heavy D collapsed and died in his home after finishing his groceries. Hours earlier he had posted 2 words to his Twitter account.

heavy d last tweet

Race car driver Dan Wheldon was killed in an horrific accident in Las Vegas last month. He too tweeted with passion hours before he died.

dan wheldon last tweet

Jack Layton‘s final tweet was steadfast in his leadership.

jack layton last tweet

DJ AM, quoted lyrics hours before he would be found dead.

dj am last tweet

Then you have the final tweets from regular folks, like Lisa Kay. She was 40, was fighting cancer and training for triathlons. The night before she died she went for dinner with friends.

tri lisa kay last tweet

There’s Derek K Miller, a digital enthusiast from Vancouver who had fought cancer for longer than many expected him to. So weak near the end, his final tweet was posted by his wife.

derek k miller last tweet

These final Twitter streams and Facebook pages are great ways to go back and relive experiences with friends who have gone. The cloud keeping their memory accessible for us wherever.

The cloud aslo keeps emails. I archive everything in Gmail and this past week, when looking for keywords I stumbled into emails from Derek and one from my grandmother. It was striking how appropriate their words were to me and decisions I was making. It is a great gift, to have the words and inspiration from friends, family and the famous live on online.

Twitter Is Really About Eavesdropping

Piers Morgan‘s Twitter show was a lot of talk about something people should just be doing. It was filled with Martha Stewart, Alyssa Milano and celebrity tweeters and very little substance about how to actually use it.

In the waning seconds Gary Vee came on and talked about as the greatest tool anyone can use to “get” Twitter. It’s about listening was the message Gary hammered home, a drum I’ve been banging too.

Twitter Is A Game Of Follow The Leaders – stop worrying about who follows you and instead focus on who you follow
The Audience Isn’t Listening – the world of broadcast is now a two way street, not one way

Here’s the repost of an article from from November 2008:

It’s one thing not to participate in the online conversation, but do you monitor the conversation others are having about you and your brand?

This is vital for not only old media, but any company trying to succeed in the modern era. No longer are people talking about you behind your back, whispering about their negative experiences at cocktail parties. Bouquets and bombs when it comes to customer service and brand opinion are now aired publicly with Facebook groups, blogs, message boards and live flow conversations on Twitter.

This past weekend Motrin had a major brandjack when the conversation about their new ad exploded into a huge negative backlash. The conversation was left unchecked for the entire weekend and nothing but hate, anger and vitriol spread amongst the active online community.

Motrin tried to reach into new media to spread a message, but instead of monitoring and nurturing it – they just planted the seed and left. Weeds grew and nobody knew, until Monday.

Starbucks goes about things a little differently.

They monitor the conversation, they participate in the community, they diffuse situations before they erupt.

This morning I tweeted about a negative experience at my local Starbucks. Double cupping was the default practice.

Within 2 hours I had received a tweet back from @MyStarbucksIdea responding to the situation.

If your radio station doesn’t have a twitter account, fine. If your radio station doesn’t have a facebook page, fine. If you’re not active in the social media conversation, that’s fine, but you’ve got to monitor the conversation others are having about your brand.

Go to Google, set up a Google Alert for keywords associated with your brand.

Go to Twitter Search and set up an RSS feed associated with your brand.

Not participating in the online conversation is a problem, not listening to the online conversation is a fatal flaw.

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