Much like real life, there are polite and impolite ways to interact with people on social platforms. Every Monday, I’m going to answer a question along these lines. To ask a question, find me on Twitter.
Sometimes when I find a tweet I want to retweet, I don’t have room to add a comment. I know it’s good etiquette to keep tweets to 70-80 characters for this exact reason, but some people don’t. Is it okay to shorten the original tweet to make room?
— TWEET SHORTER
DEAR TWEET SHORTER:
I run into this quite a bit, and it’s frustrating. I don’t want to have to edit your content, but if I want to comment I have to.
You are absolutely right about the 70-80 character rule — it’s always good to give your followers room to comment. If you want to retweet someone who fills up the entire 140, though, it’s acceptable to shorten their tweet to a reasonable length as long as you don’t change their content — but do so with MT instead of RT. MT stands for “modified tweet,” and is acceptable when you keep the content of the tweet the same, but cut some words. I prefer to keep txt lnguage out of my tweets, but I find myself using things like 2 and ‘r’ when I need to make room to comment. In my mind, RT is comparable to a journalist’s quote, while MT is comparable to a summary.
Another _T you may have noticed is “HT @username” (or h/t), which stands for “hat tip.” This is used to give credit to somebody, which you should always be doing, of course. Also acceptable as a means of giving credit is “via @username.” I’d say I see via more often than HT, but both are acceptable ways to give credit.
Pretty straightforward — RT is a direct quote, MT is a paraphrase and HT is credit. Keep your tweets to 80 characters or less, so your followers don’t need to bother with this, and you’re doing your part!