Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Does Sharing a Link on a Social Network Imply Endorsement of the Content?

"It's impossible to have a point of view in the electric age and have any meaning at all. You've got to be everywhere at once whether you like it or not. You have to be participating in everything going on at the same time. And that is not a point of view." Marshall McLuhan in 1967
A tweet yesterday proposed that sharing a link on Twitter implies an endorsement of the associated content.  That's certainly not true for me. My decision to share something on a social network is based on how interesting I think it will be for my audience, not the degree to which it supports my own point of view. I often share links to posts that present opinions I don't agree with, services I don't use and positions I don't support.

The World Wide Web has obliterated almost all of the external encumbrances that once made it difficult to access information beyond the scope of our own personal and cultural point of view. But our internal psychological barriers still remain and must be consciously challenged if we seek to transcend them. If you want to give it a try, commit to sharing at least one interesting link a day that's outside of your comfort zone.
"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." H.H. The Dalai Lama



Toxic Menges said...

Do you comment within the tweet regarding how the link makes you feel? A RT from an official twitter stream is often seen as an endorsement. Within my RL job, I am seen as the face of my company from my (corporate) twitter stream, and would not ever tweet a link that painted my community in a poor light. It might be interesting for you to post the entire conversation as context to my twitter yesterday. Also bear in mine that an individual posting links is very different from someone who is tasked with managing conversations in an official capacity for a company that has a product with a large community following.

Botgirl Questi said...

I agree that there may be a difference in perception between a "private" person versus someone whose online identity on a social networking platform is as a spokesperson for a company.

That opens up more questions, since the delineation between personal and corporate is often blurred in social networking situations. Do all posts by someone with "Linden" as a last name automatically imply corporate-approved communication?

Another challenge is that the limited 140 character space makes it harder to both share a link and also give a bit of an indication of why it was shared.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to single you out, other than to reference your tweet as the inspiration for the post. My main premise about POV was pretty much unrelated to the question of corporate tweeters.

Toxic Menges said...

As the tweeter in question has a personal twitter stream, I would say yes, add to that the position of the Linden in question, then a definite yes :)

Glad I provoked you into a posting :)

Roblem Hogarth said...

Remember that despite their popularity most social networks are primitive in their functionality. Far too much reliance is put on number of links and tags to try and provide useful information. Without context to why a link or tag was used it's little more than a noise factor. However that's not how that information is sold. We know anyone that used the #slviewer2 tag may Not have been using it as an endorsement, but it's used that way.

Botgirl Questi said...

Another aspect is that some (many) people and organizations are using social networking to promote their business or cause.

Johnny said...

When you share a link to something via a social network you are in effect making an editorial decision - choosing something out of the mass of information that is the internet and drawing it to the attention of whoever is following you. Unless you explicitly state otherwise I think it's inevitable (and reasonable) that readers will assume you are in fact commending it to their attention.

It's complicated by the fact that, in most cases, your followers will have no frame of reference for you outside of Twitter or whatever, so they will tend to conflate your opinion with whatever you have linked to. If, in real life, I said to one of my friends "Hey, look at this," and pointed to a positive article about, say, Sarah Palin, they would know I wasn't endorsing it, because they know me, but a stranger coming across a tweeted link wouldn't have that context and would probably draw the opposite conclusion.

Twitter isn't really suited to ambiguous or nuanced communication. Better to write a longer blog post and tweet a link to that.

oobscure said...

Even on micro-blogging networks, you can always add a comment to the links you share.

You can at least add an emoticon, let's say.

If there's no added comment, at least some of your readers will get your link sharing as an implicite endorsement, at least with regard to the article quality.

Surely some of your readers will react differently than others, accordingly to how much they know about you and your points of view.

It depends on how much you want to be understandable by your audience as a whole.

Is there any good reason NOT to add a short comment to links we share, other than being hurry?

Even a quick "hmmmm...." comment makes clearer that you only want to stimulate discussion and provoking thoughts, and you're not fully endorsing the article (yet).

Peter Stindberg said...

Definitely not true for me. My "followers" know meand spot a "negative endorsement" right away. Sometimes I add a comment - as short as "pffft" or more elaborate to what I share in Google Reader or Buzz.