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Twitter shows iffy etiquette with Alec Baldwin retweet

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@TwitterTV, a Twitter-owned account, may have demonstrated poor etiquette when retweeting actor Alec Baldwin during Sunday’s Emmy Awards.

After 30 Rock’s Baldwin congratulated Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men on his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award, @TwitterTV added Cryer’s Twitter handle and the #emmys hashtag to the retweet.

There are no hard and fast rules on editing a tweet when retweeting, yet adding Cryer’s handle and the hashtag seems superfluous, odd, and a touch unethical. It changes the meaning of Baldwin’s tweet somewhat and attributes the additions to the actor erroneously.

There’s a chance that Baldwin’s tweet may have been sent disingenuously (he was applauding a rival, after all), and that he intentionally left out Cryer’s handle because he did not necessarily want the Two and a Half Men star to see it. Including the popular #emmys hashtag also inserted Baldwin into a conversation he may not have wanted to be a part of.

With the Baldwin tweet, Twitter opted not to use the native retweet feature it baked into the site in November 2009 (partly to discourage retweeters from editing other users’ original tweets). At the time, cofounder and then-CEO Ev Williams wrote on his personal blog:

Because organically retweeted tweets can be edited, even if the original author is properly understood as the author, it's not necessarily for what they really said. Inaccurate attribution is possible in any medium. But in Twitter, because of the character limit, it's often necessary. People shorten and edit retweeted tweets to make them fit along with the extra metadata. Even when for legit purposes, that can be misleading and unfair to the author.

Williams added the fact that RTs can be modified by spammers to make users appear as though they are endorsing something they never tweeted about.

Manual RTs have their uses, especially when one wishes to add a comment to someone else’s tweet when sharing it with their followers. It can be used for comedic effect as well, as Twitter funnyman Rob Delaney has shown when posting pretend tweets by President Barack Obama such as: “Me too. RT @BarackObama: When a clown dies, do they bury him in his makeup & costume? That would freak me out big time.”

In Twitter’s defense, the site’s Terms of Service state that by posting tweets, you grant the company a license to modify your content. However, its glossary includes“MT” (for “modified tweet”), a term it could have instead used instead of “RT” to clearly denote that it had changed Baldwin’s tweet.

Twitter and members of the Twitter media team behind @TwitterTV did not respond to the Daily Dot's request for comment.

Meanwhile, Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel urged viewers to tweet about Tracy Morgan’s “collapse” and encourage followers to tune in after Baldwin’s 30 Rock costar pretended to have fallen down on stage. The brazen ratings-grabbing stunt let to 25,000 thousand “OMG Tracy Morgan” tweets instantly being posted, according to @TwitterTV.

Photo by Vivanista1/Flickr