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Retweet Hijacking – What Would You Do?

[UPDATE 5.6.09 8:32PM PDT: I just got off the phone with the President of the company that the retweet hijack webmaster worked for. The conversation went well and I appreciate now that the company is a global organization with a large staff and an excellent reputation. The situation unfortunately got out of hand. I have chosen to edit this post to remove the company name.]

[IMPORTANT UPDATE 5.5.09 2:45PM PDT: Josh xxxx (last name removed), webmaster for @(name removed) has been in touch with me via email and also commented on my post (see below) and this post and on Twitter to extend his apologies and express his regret for the actions he took. I appreciate the gesture and may consider taking this post down, per Josh’s request… or at least making it anonymous, such that further repercussions are avoided.]

I don’t know about you, but I give GREAT care as to what I tweet about, even in my @ replies and conversations… even DM’s (direct messages). I run everything through an internal filter of:

  1. Would I be okay with this on the front page of the NYT?
  2. Would I be okay for this to be found in a Google search? and/or
  3. Would I be proud for my grandchildren to see this in 20 years’ time? (Exaggeration maybe, but content does hang around the internet for a long time!)

And, I’m always upbeat, positive and focused on adding value. (My tweeting style has been described as the “little Tony Robbins on your shoulder!”)

Now, I appreciate there are no “hard and fast” rules to using Twitter – or any social network, for that matter. BUT there are most certainly general rules of etiquette. And there’s personal INTEGRITY. Something very dear to my heart.

This morning, I put out this tweet: “Mother’s Day is coming up on May 10! This is a great site & service for same day gifts!”


One of the reasons I chose this site to tweet is I know the owner of the site and service personally.

I was delighted to see several retweets. But then something odd caught my eye – a guy retweeted me, but replaced the link I tweeted with a link to his OWN website, thereby inferring I was endorsing his site. UGH! That is the antithesis to best practice. I was not amused. See the screenshot below: @(name removed)’s tweet goes to his own xxxx site. 🙁


If you know me at all, you know I’m not the type of person to put energy into anything negative; if there’s a challenge to deal with, I’d rather do so quietly and privately. So, I saw that @(name removed) and I were following each other thus allowing direct messaging.

I was a little, um, terse – I broke one of my own relationship rules and that is I sent a message while just a smidge emotional. It’s always best to allow a wee bit of time to calm down and gain perspective.

I also decided to send a regular tweet sharing what just happened… without outing Mr. xxxx just yet – to see if he could somehow rescue this situation. He didn’t. It seemed to get worse. I received a barrage of DM’s from Mr. xxxx telling me it’s a free country and it was “lame” to “legislate integrity.” Oh dear. Well, guess whose xxxx company I won’t be using. Yes, it’s a free country.

Ignoring this occurrence may have been a better choice. But I wanted to make an example of this practice – which I now understand is becoming more prevalent on Twitter. In fact, it’s called “Retweet Hijacking!”


Blocking someone on Twitter will not prevent this type of hijacking behavior.

What are your thoughts – what would you do? Have you experienced/seen any retweet hijacking? Do you agree with this xxxx guy that it’s a “free country” and he didn’t break any of Twitter’s Terms of Service? Should the citizens of the Twitterverse bandy together to ensure best practices? Please share in the comments below [click Comments]:

Related posts: Are You A Twitter ReTweet Thief ?

[UPDATE 5/5/09 8:54pm: New related post found: Twitter “RTs” leave room for misquotes, fabrications]

Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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  2. Drd1201 on July 7, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Mari what bothers me most about this is, sometimes it happens and it's not intentional. The problem as I see it is with what's happening with the people who are doing this for another set of motives. I know the other day a guy really got all bent out of shape about this, which I can understand, some, but I really feel like he was talking about people who were jumping his brand and then completing the tweet with their web page? Glad you brought it out, great subject to discuss…

  3. TweetDeckTV on May 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Mr. @jagoff™ should be given a strike against his account. Twitter should have a 3 strikes-and-you're-out policy regarding this behavior. Essentially, he has committed a type of slander, because if the business he has attributed with your endorsement is bad, it's a bad reflection on you. Therefore, you should have the right to defend your reputation. I think you have a legal case against him – you might express this to Twitter, rather than waste your time with this thieving *explicative*.

    • Drd1201 on July 7, 2010 at 12:05 am

      Not when it's inadvertant – sometimes when someone RT's without meaning to they will slice and dice…when it's blatant, that's different…

  4. Pam Moore on January 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Sorry to hear this Mari. Brings up an interesting topic around social responsibility. What and how integrity will be enforced in social media is well of course “social” combined w/the rules of the powers that be on the different platforms.

    What is most disappointing of this situation is that he could have apologized immed. via DM or public and tried to minimize the situation growing further out of control. That’s where integrity comes in.

    Highlights the need for social media policies. This can happen even at the smallest companies. People are people and will make mistakes. A policy must include how to deal with controversy, issues that arise etc.

    What a not so great use of your day, heh!

    Just because someone can Tweet and post on Facebook, it doesn’t make them qualified to be behind the driver seat of your brand in an open public forum of millions. Good lessons for business of all sizes of the importance of planning, education and policy.

    My 3 cents 😉

  5. Mike Cheung on May 7, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Thanks so much for bringing this to light. I never knew this type of hijacking was going on and to think that a company wound do such a thing really would make me think twice about using that company.

    Please do keep us updated

    Mike Cheungs last blog post..Oh Sunny Day

  6. L on May 7, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Maybe I’m a much more private person, but I would never have taken something like this and blown it out of proportion as it has been here. It seems to me that this being such a prevelant pracitice on twitter, it would be better to deal with the situation calmly and in a private setting. I think that [removed] is getting a bad wrap. Yes, our actions do have reprocussions, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. Behind computer screens sit human beings, and believe it or not people make mistakes. He apologized publicly and that’s much more than you can say for most people. Putting a person’s real name in the blog is tacky and a bit vindictive for someone who enjoys preaching about ethics.

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