I am not a big fan of the RT (retweet) custom on Twitter. I think it wastes space, and is unnecessary. It often ends up in an awkward stumbling over one’s self to give credit to someone who hasn’t done much more than tweet a link. (If you disagree with me on this point, join the crowd.)

Worse still, the RT leaves room for misquotation, misunderstanding and even fabrication of tweets. Tonight, by random coincidence, I observed an argument about a tweet by @GMVolt. A number of people were doing RTs that @GMVolt had tweeted “GM has a lot of problems, but it HAS sold more EV’s and hybrids than the carnival barker who runs Tesla.” Unfortunately a Twitter search discloses only the RTs, and no original tweet from @GMVolt with this content.

A careful examination of the search results reveals what happened.

@jkp1187 tweeted the first instance “: @GMVolt GM has a lot of problems” etc. @cbarger misinterpreted this and posted it with an RT, indicating @GMVolt had posted it, which did not actually happen, or at least, there is no evidence that it did. (The tweet is not in @GMVolt’s archive either).

What happened here appears to be a simple mistake, but it points out yet another tragic flaw in the RT, and an acute risk for corporate spokespeople who can be exposed to misquotation, etc.