Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Beating the retweet

A while ago I learnt an important lesson: Retweet in haste, repent at leisure.
When I was working as a research assistant on  the 3rd edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (or "ODQ3" as it was known to the cognoscenti), I found this oft-quoted tag [with "marry" as the first word, as here], with a typo in the Stevenson Home Book of <whatever>:  Marry in haste, repeat at leisure.
I blogged about it here. To give an idea of what I was regretting, here's the first para:
A few days ago, I saw and retweeted (from the hip – will I never learn?) this:

It's making a good point. Government priorities are wrong-headed in a way that in less socially pregnant contexts would be laughable.  Stopping tax avoidance and evasion is the LOW-HANGING FRUIT – easy wins for a Chancellor needing to save a billion or two.
But, although I approved of the message  I didn't endorse the medium – which used a misleading infographic.  That post examines how,

But freedom of speech does not imply the freedom to shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre (which was once illegal in the USA, but is now just wrong), or to spread fake news. Which leads me to the retweet [that's a rather long but well-researched BuzzFeed piece that goes into the Frankenstein's monster-like construction of a particularly noxious fiction] recently posted by Donald Oh-God-What-NOW? Trump. [Come to think of it, I should specify: he gave Britain First millions of dollars' worth of free publicity {he has 43.6 million Twitter followers} – on 29 November 2017;  by the time you read this, Heaven knows what else he may have done]. Here's a taste:
President Trump on Wednesday retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of the far-right British political party Britain First — drawing criticism from Prime Minister Theresa May and dragging Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric back into the spotlight in the US.

At least one of the videos, which originated in the Netherlands, was debunked. It drew a rebuke from the embassy.

The videos, which Trump retweeted from Jayda Fransen, are captioned "Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!", "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!", and "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!"

"It is wrong for the president to have done this," a spokesperson for May said, amid universal condemnation from politicians and groups in both the UK and US.

Speaking of which I'm reminded of another notorious retweet, which started with a single instance of panic reflected in Olly Murs's tweet posted a few days before Trump's. The Daily Mirror reported it thus:

But the Mirror must have captured a tweet from that arch-spermologer ...
OK, this a rather creative reuse of a nearly-extinct word, once applied to that other spreader of news, St Paul.
....Olly Murs quite early in its life; it was retweeted nearly ten times that "507" (and while we're about it, you may feel a pang of regret at the decline of punctuation standards – as typed, that expletive greyed out by the Mirror has "everyone" as its direct object; not to mention the syntax-free (meaning-free?) "@Selfridges now gun shots".

L'Envoi [because I gotta go]

By retweeting something it seems to me that to some extent you are endorsing it. You are at least morally liable for any battle, murder, and sudden death arising.


PS And here are some clues:
  • Pale surround for good person – advocate. (9)
  • Minder with boundary issues commits libel (which can't be expunged). (9)

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