AP issues staff guidelines on retweets, no 'personal opinions' allowed or implied

Associated Press

The Associated Press has added a new entry on retweeting to its social media guidelines. Staffers are reminded to keep their opinions to themselves.

Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day.

Disclaimers -- like "retweets do not constitute endorsements" -- do not protect AP staffers if they violate these guidelines.



Previously, the guidelines -- which were last updated in July -- said simply that staffers "are welcome to retweet and share material posted by official AP-branded accounts on social networking sites (e.g. @AP, @APStylebook, etc." Below read the full update from Tom Kent, AP’s deputy managing editor for standards and production, and responses to the announcement.

RETWEETING

Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day. A retweet with no comment of your own can easily be seen as a sign of approval of what you’re relaying. For instance:

RT @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools

RT @dailyeuropean at last, a euro plan that works bit.ly/xxxxx.

These kinds of unadorned retweets must be avoided.

However, we can judiciously retweet opinionated material if we make clear we’re simply reporting it, much as we would quote it in a story. Colons and quote marks help make the distinction:

RT Jones campaign now denouncing smith on education: @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools

RT big European paper praises euro plan: @dailyeuropean “at last, a euro plan that works” bit.ly/xxxxx.

These cautions apply even if you say on your Twitter profile that retweets do not constitute endorsements.

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website, Poynter.org, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.

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