by Mary C Long
Is it time to say goodbye to the all-too-common disclaimer seen on social networking accounts telling us that “retweets do not imply endorsement?” It seems we’re abusing it and using it as an excuse to post whatever we want without consequence. Should this trend continue or should we own up to the fact that you really are what you tweet and like it or not, your retweets DO imply some form of endorsement.
As you’ve likely heard by now, an inadequately researched post claimed that South Carolina Governor, Nikki R. Haley, was about to be indicted. The author of the post tweeted it to followers who retweeted it in turn – and then some major news aggregates picked up on it and it spread like wildfire throughout the Twittersphere.
Governor Haley got wind of it after reporters started calling her office for comment and she “tried in vain to persuade the reporter at The State not to write anything.”
"I remember getting on the phone, and I usually don’t do this, but I just yelled at her,” the governor said in an interview. “I said, ‘Why are you doing this? There are no facts here.’"
But, as we’re learning online – facts are taking a backseat to sensationalism. In the rush to be first, we’re all getting a little too sloppy. And we’re taking liberties too.
Do online participants in general and journalists specifically need to take greater care when sharing information online? And should there be consequences for sharing rumor as if it were fact?
For example, this recent tweet from a news anchor asks for folks “thoughts” on an article claiming Barack Obama was going to have Chelsea Clinton murdered if Clint and Hillary revealed information they had about Obama’s birth certificate.
Is the co-host of Fox & Friends and anchor of America’s News Headquarters, expected to make sure she’s tweeting something factual before sharing it? Or maybe add a disclaimer like “wild accusation,” which would set the tone for the piece rather than “thoughts,” which implies the piece is one warranting serious discussion?
Either way, unless reading The Onion most folks likely assume that what they’re reading is somewhat factual. And even Onion readers are occasionally fooled.
So what should we do? Short of treating everything online as if it’s coming from the Weekly World News until proven otherwise, it seems we need to step up and take some responsibility for what we post before it gets entirely out of hand.
This post originally appeared on AdWeek Social Times
IMAGE CREDIT: BARTHOLL
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