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Retweets are not endorsement: The point totally missed

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Staff writer ▼ | December 11, 2013
What is the point of social networks? Unnecessary question, one may argue, hundreds of millions of people are using them, but even tech-savvy people can totally miss the point and look silly.
TwitterWhat is the point of social networks? Unnecessary question, one may argue, hundreds of millions of people are using them, but even tech-savvy people can totally miss the point and look silly.

"Retweets are not endorsement." If you are on Twitter, you saw that sentence in the users' profiles many times. In fact, it sounds so natural novice user may even think it should be included in a profile description. Celebrities are using it, media people are using it, politicians are using it... It must be good, right? Well, not exactly so: If you are using it, you are missing the whole point of social networking and get nothing in return.

Now, why are people wasting precious space in their profile on "RTs not endorsement?" There are several reasons, none of them right.

First, they are afraid of a legal action against them. "If I happen to write something very inappropriate, there will be no consequences because I wrote a disclaimer." Totally wrong. If you wrote against your boss or company, the consequences will follow just like in the real life.

If you offend other people, write about their race or beliefs or whatever in an inflammatory way, the consequence will follow. Just think about the offline world: You can't say anything you want just because you wrote "RTs not endorsement."

The point here is that Twitter is like a written word, like newspapers. When you say something in the real world, your words can be unheard, they may be forgotten, and in the end of the day you can always change the phrase and say "What I really meant was..." However, when you tweet, your words are recorded, almost like in a traditional media; they have the power of the written word. People are very aware of that and that's also a reason to write "Retweets are not endorsement" in an attempt to protect themselves.

Second, you may think that you may retweet anything you want as long as a disclaimer is in your profile. Wrong again. No disclaimer will save you from accusations, or a lawsuit, if you retweet "Hitler was a good guy". When you retweet, the message has been sent and it can't be revoked. So, you'll have to answer some unpleasant questions. Twitter and mainstream media are full of examples of people apologizing for a tweet sent without thinking.

Third, the retweet option is meant for endorsement by its very nature because every sharing on any social network is an endorsement of some kind. When you press "Share," "Like," or "Retweet" you are sending the message to the world: "I like this and I'd like you to know about this." That's why social networks are created in the first place: To enable their users to spread news, views, and opinion about things, people, and place they like, and to make the sharing easier.

Think of it this way: Would it make sense to tell all your friends "I like this band! I didn't say that!" Doesn't make sense, does it? Well, to retweet something and after that talk about "Retweets are not endorsement" doesn't make sense too. You send tweets and retweets to express your satisfaction with something, to endorse your favorite band, to spread a good idea, to share with the world that you agree with something. That's the point of Twitter.

It's simple: If you don't like something - do not retweet. If you are not sure should you say something - do not say. It's that simple. Instead of writing about endorsement and opinion that is maybe yours maybe not, write something useful about yourself in the profile. Just don't yell around "That's good! I didn't say that!"