When a retweet misleads

If you’re a Torontonian and on Twitter, you would know that Mayor David Miller is an active participant; posting comments, photos of events and his general take on life in the city. I heard him speak about his interest in social media at Mesh conference and was impressed by his passion and candour.

You may also know that the Tamil community in Toronto has been staging protests lately to draw attention to the situation in their home country. This weekend a march shut down the Don Valley Parkway.

What do these two situations have in common?

Well, on Sunday it appeared as though the Mayor wrote a politically sensitive tweet that was later retweeted.

In reality the Mayor never posted the tweet-in-question. What happened, according to TV Ontario’s The Agenda blog, was that an individual sent an ‘@’ message to the Mayor. Another person retweeted it, leaving out the original sender’s name but leaving in the impression that the Mayor had, in fact, commented. The full story is unfortunate on a number of ethical levels.

For PR people, this is yet another example of a situation we need to be aware of and monitor. And as communicators we need to make sure we don’t rely on the results of a single search, but dig deeply enough to piece together a full story before we offer clients our counsel.

Thanks to my friend Keith McDonald for sharing the TVO blog post with me.

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One thought on “When a retweet misleads

  1. We often warn young people that there will always be a record of what they post online.Fortunately, this can work both ways. Mayor Miller’s communications team will have an easier time defusing this situation by pointing out that the Mayor did not, in fact tweet the original message (nor did he retweet it). I do agree with you that this kind of false attribution of statements is something that PR pros need to be aware of, though.

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