To RT or not to RT – is an RT an endorsement?

A retweet is a re-posting of someone else’s message.  You might retweet something you think is funny, shocking, or sad.  You might also retweet to raise awareness for a cause, or to advocate for change.  In some instances, you may retweet something you disagree with and add commentary with a following tweet.  Regardless, your followers may believe you endorse/support what you are retweeting.

Wow, I wrote retweet a lot there.

Retweeting has it’s benefits – you want it to be a credible, reliable and relevant source of public health info to your followers. You may not have all of that info online or it may be presented in a better format on another organization’s website. Point is, if you hit the retweet button YOU are spreading a message.  Whether you are writing your own messages or spreading someone else’s, you are populating feeds with something YOU believe.

As a public health unit, there are a few things to consider before hitting the retweet button:

  • If you are retweeting health advice, tips and tricks, make sure the account is credible. Is it a known nurse, doctor, community partner or health agency?
  • If you are unsure about the account you are retweeting, take a look at their past tweets to make sure they don’t contradict your messages.  For example, someone may have great healthy eating tips but may also be anti-vaccine.  You may not want to increase the visibility of this account.
  • When you endorse a retweet, some users may believe you are endorsing the account in which you retweeted.  Therefore, do your research.  Understand the accounts political alignment, beliefs, goals, etc.
  • Does the re-tweet bring attention to a deficiency at your organization? For example, is the re-tweet in support of universal access to dental care, but your organization only supports free care for youth?
  • Is the issue you are re-tweeting about politically-charged? A re-tweet may solicit responses from those active on the issue and you may have to engage and respond with the same care and quality as if the content was your own.
  • If you are unsure about whether you should retweet it or not, don’t do it.

What do you think?  Is a retweet an endorsement?  If yes, are you endorsing the account in which you retweeted?

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2 responses to “To RT or not to RT – is an RT an endorsement?

  1. I agree that If you are retweeting on behalf of a public heatlh department/agency or any health organization you need to think a lot more before retweeting, than an individual would.
    As an individual I can retweet anything I may think would be of interest to those who follow me and by no means imply any endorsement.
    However all of Corey’s caveats are valid from an organizational tweeter perspective, especially with respect to health information, however general.
    For example If the Ottawa Public Health department retweets an article about fluoridation in the water supply I can going to believe they are doing so for a specific reason, the source and viewpoint of the article becomes very important.

    • Thanks Pat! Completely agree. From an organizational perspective, extensive research on the viewpoint of the article is important, especially when retweeting editorial pieces.

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