Twitter isn’t Chinese whispers

Did I really say that?

I don’t like being misquoted. Nobody does. In this day and age, I think it’s safe enough to say that if Mr A says “Mr B said that not eating is good for your health,” nobody will quote Mr A directly as having said or having the opinion that “not eating is good for your health”.

Misquoting minefield

Try retweeting (RT-ing) another person’s tweet or even another person’s RT of someone else’s tweet and you are in a misquoting minefield.

Here’s an example:

MrBonTwitter: not eating is good for your health. Here is some spurious and ridiculous link proving it http://bit.ly/aQ7kjh

MrA finds this interesting and decides to retweet (RT) it.

MrAonTwitter RT @MrBonTwitter: not eating is good for your health. Here is some spurious and ridiculous link proving it http://bit.ly/aQ7kjh

(In this case, we don’t know why MrAonTwitter has retweeted this, we don’t know if it’s because they agree with it, think it’s unreal, untrue, an issue worth raising, etc.)

MrConTwitter follows Mr A and not Mr B. he arrives along and decides he wants to retweet it but realises if he does, it’ll be over 140 characters. He does this:

MrConTwitter RT MrAonTwitter: not eating is good for your health. Here is some spurious and ridiculous link proving it http://bit.ly/aQ7kjh

Who said what

Can you see what is wrong with this? MrC has effectively attributed MrB’s tweet to Mr A. He has put MrB’s words in MRA’s mouth.

Anyone else who comes along will think that this is what MrA thinks, it can damage a reputation, it can make a reputation. If it’s the latter, MrB would be non-to-happy to see his words attributed to somebody else. If it’s the former, MrB will be displeased. Maybe neither will give a damn.

Twitter isn’t Chinese whispers. There’s no need to get a story arseways just because you’re working within a 140 character limit.

If you’re RT’ing attribute the original source and don’t attribute something to the wrong source, especially if there’s comment rather than fact thrown in there. If it’s a tweet that has been RT’d to death, it’s okay to use (via @Twitterusername) in the message.

Other people’s words

You also need to be crafty when abbreviating a tweet so that you’re not putting your own language into somebody else’s mouth.

What’s @about?

Recently, a fellow Twitter user enquired was the @really necessary before a Twitter username. It’s easy to understand this question. After all, our business Twitter account is WebContent_ie and can be found on on Http://twitter.com/webcontent_ie. There’s no sign of an @ anywhere there. So why bother with the @.

Well, if you’re writing a tweet to somebody or want to mention another twitter user you need to put @ before their username so that it appears in their Mentions column in some of the Twitter applications out there or it appears in their replies page.

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