Retwact Provides Correction and Recontact for Tweets

By Steve Anderson May 02, 2013

Twitter is proving to be an integral part of many operations, from newsrooms to marketing and beyond. But sometimes, some need a chance to just "take back" what might have been said previously. Stonly Baptiste looks to have a new Web-based solution with the recently unveiled Retwact, a tool that essentially allows users to retract a tweet.

With Retwact, users can click on a simple green icon underneath the most recent tweets to bring up a pair of dialog boxes. The first allows users to write a quick retraction tweet to follow up an original, good for less sensitive tweets that need minor correction. The second dialog box allows users to send what's called an "#RTRetract", which goes out from the @Retract Twitter account, and goes to anyone who retweeted the original message. Users clicking the link associated with the #RTRetract will see the original tweet and the corrected tweet, side by side, allowing for an easy, quick way to see just what got changed from the original.

There are, however, some downsides to Retwact. First, only the last five tweets issues can be hit with an #RTRetract, which for major organizations and other high-volume tweeters means that all but the most recent will not be able to be adjusted. Perhaps worse, the retraction tweet only goes to those who retweeted the original message, meaning that, unless the retweeter in question also shares the #RTRetract tweet, it may as well have never been retracted outside of the originator's network.

Retwact isn't a foolproof system, but it's certainly an excellent start toward a better solution. Mistakes happen, after all, and having a way to rectify those mistakes quickly and with relative ease is not at all a bad idea. After all, the impact that Twitter can have on the larger world stage is undeniable by any stretch of the imagination. A hoax tweet about an explosion at the White House caused a drop in the stock market. Granted, it was a brief drop and the market quickly recovered, but what if that particular hoax tweet hadn't been outed so quickly? It could have started something much, much worse. Even Twitter itself is encouraging greater security in the face of increasing attacks on a clearly powerful piece of technology.

That's quite a bit of power in those 140 characters, for the world, for regular people and especially for businesses. While Twitter has a great deal of capability to quickly get out the word over a wide swath of users--and users who have specifically opted in, making them magnificent marketing targets as they want to know what's going on--a mistake in a tweet could have far-reaching and long-lasting ramifications. Product news, short reviews, even information about what's coming next...these are all valuable uses for Twitter. Giving a faulty release date or an unavailable feature could do just as much damage to a company's reputation as a flawed advertisement. Consider what kind of damage a competitor or a disgruntled ex-employee could do with five minutes alone with a company Twitter account, and alongside that, it's easy to see the value involved in a safe, accurate Twitter feed.

However, as long as the Twitter volume is carefully managed, and tweets are reasonably well vetted before launch, the end result should be that Retwact will offer a sound way to issue retractions to cover those few times--and they should always be as few as possible--that a tweet needs a little correcting.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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