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.”
[BBC]

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.

TWITTER’S BEST PRACTICES FOR NEWSROOMS

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?

Twitter.

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?

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