AP advises staff not to retweet in social media guidelines
The Associated Press has released new social media guidelines on how staffers should handle re-tweets (tips/guidelines from the Guardian and the BBC are also worth checking). Basically for the AP it comes down to not retweeting anything with an opinion. Doesn’t this slightly defeat the point of retweets or is that just me?
When someone says something that is interesting or controversial you want to share that with your followers. That’s the nature of social media and Twitter particularly.
Often when people retweet they will do so with their own take on it — indicating support or dismay. Although not necessarily, plenty of retweets carry no comment at all and that is also perfectly fine and an accepted way to go about your Twitter business.
What the AP wants its staff to do is report all opinion as news. It doesn’t even want staff doing something as basic as this: “RT @largeburrito: Dear @BBCr4today, why x examine a successful bank? Missing the point.” It is concerned that people reading the tweet will think that somehow the AP endorses the view expressed in the original tweet. Really?
Anyway take a look at what the AP has to say:
Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day. A retweet with no comment of your own can easily be seen as a sign of approval of what you’re relaying. For instance:
RT @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools
RT @dailyeuropean at last, a euro plan that works bit.ly/xxxxx.
These kinds of unadorned retweets must be avoided.
However, we can judiciously retweet opinionated material if we make clear we’re simply reporting it, much as we would quote it in a story. Colons and quote marks help make the distinction:
RT Jones campaign now denouncing smith on education: @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools
RT big European paper praises euro plan: @dailyeuropean “at last, a euro plan that works” bit.ly/xxxxx.
These cautions apply even if you say on your Twitter profile that retweets do not constitute endorsements.
Seriously wake up and move on. We’ve been at this whole Twitter business for a while now and the AP guidelines read like they were drafted a couple of years ago.
No one takes a retweet as an endorsement anymore (do they?). And you do not need a line on your Twitter profile saying that “retweets do not constitute endorsements”. Besides you only have 160 characters to play with in your Twitter profile so use them wisely rather than being an ad for lawyers.
Also the style of retweeting the AP suggests whereby the RT is separated from the name is no longer really a retweet at all as @digiphile (Alex Howard) noted: “@tjrkent Separating RT from @name breaks the chain of custody. It won’t be clear whose words are being reshared without adding quotes.”
It is really not needed. Your followers are generally a pretty smart bunch and I’m convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can work out that you are not endorsing every view expressed in a retweet unless you add something like: “Agree. RT @largeburrito: Dear @BBCr4today, why x examine a successful bank?”
As others have noted people will work out what you style is or where you are coming from very early on. The AP guidelines need a rethink. They are deeply flawed as the New York Times media critic David Carr put it: “AP to staff: Don’t retweet anything with an opinion. http://t.co/3uLyMVBW Good luck with that”. Quite.
The whole guidelines are worth taking a look at and Poynter has a good round-up of online reaction here.
A few of other things worth reading on the social media guideline front: