The argument for the internet being a wild, wild West of geriatric porn and kitten antics and Twitter wars is a good one, but there is at least some sense of an overarching “etiquette” when it comes to navigating the web and social media. Speaker John Boehner broke one of the rules tenuously keeping the web from descending into anarchy and goatse .gifs by adding his own editorial stance to a re-tweet concerning health care law.
Earlier this afternoon, CNN’s Lisa Desjardins Tweeted about a Florida judge having found the new health care law unconstitutional. Specifically, she wrote: “BREAKING – FLASH: Florida judge finds new health care law unconstitutional. #tcot #tlot #left #teaparty.” For those not familiar with Twitter, the items marked with hashtags at the end of her Tweet are terms added to make those topics of discussion searchable on Twitter.
Moments later, Boehner re-tweeted her original post, but added his own little somethin’ somethin’: “MT @LisaDCNN: BREAKING – FLASH: Florida judge finds job-crushing health care law unconstitutional #hcrcostsjobs.”
The “MT” at the front of his Tweet stands for “modified Tweet,” which his certainly was. But this is usually reserved for a Tweet that has to be shortened so as not to go over 140 characters, not one that is altered so as not have its meaning drastically changed. By changing the original content of Desjardins’ Tweet, then, Boehner made it appear as if she also found the health care law “job-crushing”
Desjardins did not hesitate to call Boehner out, asking her Twitter follows whether his wasn’t “an abuse of ‘MT’ing.” A few other bold names on Twitter, including Fox News’ Andy Levy and blogger / Tweeter “pourmecoffee”, also viewed Boehner’s MT as “not cool” and “dishonest.”
At a time when so much news is broken and discussed via Twitter, it behooves elected officials – and members of the media – to know and follow the generally agreed-upon rules and guidelines as they apply to social media, especially when it comes to citing the opinions of others. Boehner seems to be a fairly savvy guy when it comes to Twitter, so we hope that he takes the online criticism he’s been garnering as an opportunity to learn and not use “MT” as an excuse for altering or assuming the opinions of other Tweeters. Tsk tsk, Mr. Boehner.
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