Would a strikeout option work for correcting tweets?

Poynter.org
A live chat on Friday revealed no easy solutions to the question of correcting tweets, but participants did come to a consensus that using a “strikeout” method might be an acceptable approach.

The chat, led by Poynter’s Mallary Tenore with panelists Scott Rosenberg, Steve Safran and Danny Sullivan, was prompted by last week’s incorrect tweets reporting the death of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

In the aftermath, Safran and Rosenberg both wrote articles discussing the issue.

The panelists and participants described two ways to fix a factually incorrect tweet: Either delete it and send a corrected version, or simply send an update explaining the earlier mistake. Neither option is perfect.

Chat participant Vadim Lavrusik, community manager and social strategist at Mashable, noted that by not deleting a tweet, it could still be discovered and retweeted: “The current functionality [of Twitter] suggests we need to delete, but still be transparent that there was a mistake made initially.”

Rosenberg disagreed, saying that to maintain the public record, it’s important not to delete public reports. “To the extent that we want Twitter to serve as a conduit for news, we need to think really carefully about how we tamper with it,” he wrote. “And ideally, we should tamper with it as little as possible.”

Safran had mixed feelings about both approaches, saying he would like to see a technological solution from Twitter. “Barring that,” he wrote, “I come down on the side of leaving the tweet published. The story is out there, and it’s better to be transparent about it.”

Sullivan said he would rather delete and explain. “As long as you issue a correction, I think it helps alleviate any ‘scrubbing’ concerns’ ” with the public record, he wrote.

In advance of the discussion, Poynter.org’s Julie Moos posted a question about Twitter corrections on Quora, noting that Adrian Holovaty would be joining a Poynter.org chat in a few weeks to further discuss technological solutions to the issue.

Chris Boutet responded on Quora and during the chat, saying that a “strike” function could allow an account owner to remove the incorrect information and replace it with a correction notice.

Boutet, senior producer for digital media at the National Post asked: “What if Twitter allowed the source to ‘strike’ a tweet in a way that would also strike all [retweeted] instances?” Using that method, any future viewer of the original tweet would see a message such as, “This tweet contained erroneous information and has been stricken by the author.”

Sullivan responded that it seemed like a good solution, though one not currently built into Twitter’s functionality. But, he wrote, it “seems a reasonable thing to push for them to do.”

Poynter’s chat with Adrian Holovaty will take place Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. ET. Here is a replay of Friday’s chat …

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