You can’t put toothpaste back in its tube and you can’t take back a tweet that was retweeted. Or can you? A Pennsylvania-based software developer is working to change that with his new tool, “Retwact.” As evidenced by the amount of false information spread in the days following the Boston Marathon bombings, Twitter can be a double-edged sword when it comes to sharing news. Just as quickly as facts and information travel, so too does the misinformation. But how can you correct it after the fact?
Just like the newspaper has a corrections page, Twitter needs a tool for correction. That’s where Retwact comes in. If you were the first person to tweet “RIP Cher” after Margaret Thatcher passed, you could have used Retwact to make a correction and send that to all those who also retweeted your message. It doesn’t delete the error, but it gets the point across — the information you have received is not correct. As Twitter becomes more of a “go-to” source in times of breaking news, Retwact — and any similar apps that may be developed — will become invaluable in preventing the spread of false information.
As of the publishing of this blog, the Retwact Twitter account has been suspended after violating the terms of service. The nature of Retwact — notifying many individuals that the information they retweeted is inaccurate — means the same tweet is sent out numerous times. And to Twitter, that looks a lot like spam. Retwact’s founder is currently waiting to hear back from Twitter to correct the issue.
What do you think of the idea? And what else could be done to help keep information on Twitter more accurate? Or does “policing” Twitter information delete its purpose? Leave us a comment and let us know!