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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Etiquette of the Twitter Retweet

I am a writer, graphic designer, and ranked by Google,MSN and Yahoo America's Favorite Love columnist I am engaged to Rick London a writer, cartoonist and brand designer, together, we own the seo and branding firm Pen And Ink Inc.

Although it is not an official Twitter function, one of the most important Twitter abbreviations is "RT" (retweet). These two letters represent the origin of every tweet ever copied and resent by another Twitter-user on Twitter each day. Recently new Twitter mobile access software has created an increase of tweets where the RT is missing and instead a (via @anyID) tag is found on the end of Tweets. This deviation from the classic RT can cause confusion and result in plagiarizing of tweeted messages. It is important to understand the one of the basic tenants of the retweet syntax to credit the original author, so that when it appears in a new network, other readers understand its origins.

The syntax of the proper retweet is simple. [RT][Original twitterer ID][Original tweet]; RT @JoyAndLife: @LeeHiller @ricklondon Yes, great poets knew this. We hope by speaking the Language of Love others will remember. The RT is recognition of an original tweeted message writer and the equivalent of copyright recognition. The RT also saves confusion over meaning and intention of sender in relation to recipient. Removing an ID and placing it after the Tweet can drastically alter the sender's intent.

One Twitter misleading scenario could look like this could lead to tragic consequences: @TheGroom sends the following Tweet; @TheGroom @TheBride Love you baby. Will meet later for wedding rehearsal can't wait to marry you. Another person sees this and decides to retweet in the "via" format. @BobJ @TheBride Love you baby. Will meet later for wedding rehearsal can't wait to marry you. (via @TheGroom). It now appears that @BobJ is going to meet and eventually marry the bride. A second retweet would totally remove the groom from the end of the tweet creating even more confusion. The correct RT form would have been, BobJ: RT @TheGroom @TheBride Love you baby. Will meet later for wedding rehearsal can't wait to marry you.

We often see quotes being used in tweets. On closer inspection you find the words of classic poets, political figures, authors and other high-profile people. However there are often quotes are created and tweeted by an individual who may or may not be considered a writer. @CindyQ tweets, @CindyQ "My life crunches like sneakers on eggshells". The words signed or not are her intellectual property. It does not matter that she is not a published author in the traditional sense. When she tweets she is self- publishing. This is her original quote, tagged or not, by not adding the RT with her Twitter ID it is plagiarism. Using any method other than a classic RT would violate her copyright. There are copyright attorneys who spend many hours each day on all social networks looking for this, and find it often. Usually it does not make it to court, a settlement is made between Twittering attorney and plagiarizing Twitterer.

What we tweet or retweet is indexed by Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. making it a permanent record outside Twitter. How each of us retweets can reinforce original writer's quotes or messages, or alter the meaning of information others are creating and search engines are indexing. Millions of us enjoy sharing the information we find daily on Twitter. Remember always to retweet others as you would have others retweet you.

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