Skip to content

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.

More Posts - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn


  1. Dave on May 7, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I’m sure this guy learned his lesson, but do you really think it is equitable to post an entire blog about it to try to ruin his life. This is really immature on Mari’s part, and I feel sorry for this guy. I can’t believe you posted his name! As long as he hasn’t done it before and doesn’t do it again, I think you should leave him alone.

  2. Mari Smith on May 7, 2009 at 2:01 am

    I am deeply heartened by the strength and support of my community. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this post and comments and add your valuable insights and input.

    This is most definitely a rather unfortunate situation. However, I do believe something good will come of this. I’m glad we stood together and declared our intolerance of unethical marketing behavior in *our* socialmediasphere/Twitterverse. We cannot let those with low standards spoil it for others.

    I am heartened to share that the Assistant VP and President of [removed] have contacted me privately as they were alerted to this situation by a loyal client. Awesome! I will be having a phone conversation with the President and we will be coming to a resolve. I look forward to sharing the outcome with you!

    Meantime, I think some of the lessons we can take away are, today now more than ever, companies need to a) be vigilant about who they choose to be the voice of their company b) be fiercely watchful over their reputation and c) take prompt action to rectify sticky situations.

    …more shortly.

  3. Tracy Phipps on May 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Mari,I hate that this would happen to you but I am not surprised. People want to ride on the coattails of others who are more successful. He knows you have a big (loyal and trusting) following and therefore took the opportunity to leverage it. Shame on him!

    As far as TOS, I think they would have to be carefully written to cover this. I personally know that I have changed a tweet when I retweeted it. Usually it is to shorten it when it runs over by adding the whole “RT..@…” piece. Sometimes, I tag a little comment on it, but (I think) it’s obvious that it came from me and not the original Tweeter.

    Josh, welcome to the age of social media. It isn’t a one-way street anymore. And that is the beauty of it, at its heart. Conversations are allowed, indeed encouraged. Relationships are built, and yes, that means we stick together, banding against the playground bullies.

    Chin up Mari! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery 🙂 Happy Hump Day!

  4. Adrienne Knight on May 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Mari: The ‘you’ with regard to wow, shocked, amazing, was not aimed at you; if it read like that then sorry! Was referring to comments.

  5. Adrienne Knight on May 6, 2009 at 9:03 am

    The guy’s a creep. You’ve outed him. Forget it. As for “Wow”, “shocked” or “amazing” – are you serious? What planet are you living on? This one is full of humans. Even on Twitter. And that’s how a lot of them behave!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Sharon McPherson on May 6, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I’m not clear on why you’re so upset Josh. The people here are just stating their opinions of your actions, and as you said in one of your tweets yesterday, “Its a wide open world, and people can use it how they want.”

    They haven’t done anything against Mari’s “terms of svc” and they “didn’t do anything wrong”.

    As “the web guy” for the limo company, I’m assuming it was your responsibility to create a brand for the company on Twitter. Well, you certainly branded it with your actions yesterday. Unfortunately, it is your employer who will most likely suffer the consequences because of them.

    But that is the nature of the beast known as the internet,
    particularly, “social media”, and you’ve found out too late that once a can of worms has been opened, it is almost impossible to put them back in.

    What I find appalling, is that after your braggard statements to Mari and others that, it’s a free country and it’s “lame” to “legislate integrity”, that you would have the audacity to accuse Mari of being “absolutely ingenuine” because she’s allowing people to express their opinions on
    the example of your integrity that you set yesterday.

    What you’re witnessing is “social networking” in action Josh, a coming together of a community to show support for one of its members.

    A community that you probably could have created yourself,
    had you not acted so nonchalantly about your “moment of bad judgment”.

    It is your own statements made after the fact that are coming back to kick you in the butt Josh, which makes your indignation “sound a little preachy for me”.

    My hope is that this experience serves as a wake-up call to all the other ‘web guys’ out there looking for a “bump on Google” to…

    “Watch your thoughts, they become your words
    Watch your words, they become your actions
    Watch your actions, they become your habits
    Watch your habits, they become your character
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

  7. Clay Franklin on May 6, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Thank you for bringing this behavior to light.

    I believe the key to successful business is to build relationships over time by understanding each others wants and needs and then acting with integrity and honesty to accomplish goals in a timely fashion.

    Clay Franklins last blog post..Microsoft Windows 7 RC free download for everyone

  8. Sean McKernan on May 6, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Wow… didn’t realize that people were substituting links! I’ve been getting steamed at seeing people send out tweets that are really RTs, but not acknowledging the original source… Maybe *this* should be called “RT link-jacking!”

  9. Richard Bravo on May 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Hi Mari… I’m kind of surprised no one has recommended this, and maybe you already do it, but I use TweetLater, which will send you alerts when your name is picked up on the network in open tweets. This is a great little service that will keep you on top of the action online as it pertains to your Twitter username. Great site BTW. I just found you via a conversation between @DarimK and @mayhemstudios discussing the hijack issue. I’ll be following for sure. Cheers! @RichardBravo

  10. Scott Prock on May 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Josh, (as I stated in response to the same post on my blog) you should consult with an attorney before YOU sir make wrongful claims yourself. It’s clear you do not understand the definition of slander … I have spoken with an attorney regarding this before …

    “defamation ( slander ) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image”

    No one has made “FALSE” statements implied as factual except for you, and yes your actions with the hijacked tweet could very well fall under that definition.

    Sure you admitted and apologized but in the apology you were still pointing the blame at Mari implying that she’s the one who was at fault for being offended. There’s a HUGE difference in telling someone “I’m sorry you were offended” and “I’m sorry for offending you” With your statements it’s clear you are only sorry this has reached as many people as it has.

    It’s only natural now that you see the consequences of your actions but if you indeed sent out a genuine apology I’m sure you could have saved face and possibly the reputation of your company.

    You claim to be just the web guy, and to be frank, if you were a web guy representing MY company you would have been fired on the spot and I as the owner would have come on to apologize.

    Instead you still attack the people who are only trying to stick up for what’s right and ethical in business to make people like you think twice before they do something that can have such a damaging affect on their business.

    I’m sorry sir but YOU brought this on, and your actions are only fueling the flames.

    Scott Procks last blog post..Retweet Hijacking – @MariSmith vs @[removed]

Scroll To Top