Have You Seen MT Instead of RT on Twitter? It Means Modified Tweet

Should You Modify an original tweet when retweeting?

Sure, there are more burning questions in the world today, but I’ve come across this question on more than one occasion. Just last week I engaged in a conversation on Twitter about it and many were surprised to learn of the emerging MT standard.

Awhile back, Twitter hijacked the organic, community established retweet or RT and made it into a native retweet button with no accomodation for commentary. However, many of us still use RT @username so we can add comments to retweets. Which leads us to the question — should you modify the language in the original tweet when retweeting it? Even if it’s just a spelling or grammar correction?

Depends on who you ask, but it does makes sense to accurately represent the person you’re quoting. I became acutely aware of this a year ago when I was hit over the head for not using MT when the only thing I changed from the original tweet was putting an @ in front of the username the person referenced in his original tweet. That may be carrying it a bit too far, but I appreciated the lesson.

Apparently MT had its genesis way back in 2009. Among the guidelines or reasons for using the MT designation that the author suggests are:

  • Correcting the content in a substantial way.
  • You’re uncertain of the accuracy of a correction.
  • Expanding the content in a substantial way

Hmmm, substantial way is a very lawyerly thing to say. My advice is that if you’re in any way conflicted about sending out a retweet with even minor changes, like correcting spelling, use MT. The more we use it, the more it becomes a standard. And as standards go, it’s not a bad one.

Note: If you use Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, they generally provide for one-click RTs where you can easily change the “R” to an “M”. Not so if you use the native Twitter on the web. To facilitate this, integrate your Twitter account with Buffer App which provides for one-click RTs and a range of other functions.

5 Responses to “Have You Seen MT Instead of RT on Twitter? It Means Modified Tweet”

  1. Venkat

    I don’t really like the MT usage .. not sure why. If I make a small correction to a tweet such as changing capitalization, apostrophe, or fixing spelling, unless the original tweet was so careful that it was intentional I don’t feel a big need to indicate the change. If I ever leave out text or letters I usually indicate this with ellipses or brackets.

    If the change is going to affect the meaning of the tweet then I would just indicate the change somehow. Most often by not making the change (or using ellipses/brackets) and just adding my own comment.

    It’s a matter of personal preference, but I say down with the MT.

    • tim

      I know what you mean, Venkat. I still use it only infrequently, but good to know it exists when nothing else will do. If the orignal commentary accompanying a tweeted link requires too much editing, I instead tweet the link and give a H/T (hat tip – maybe that’s another post 🙂 ) to the originator.

  2. Venkat

    This is related, but I also have developed a habit of adding my comments before the tweet with ellipses and indicating a RT at the end, so it looks like this: [not a fan of the MT .. Have You Seen MT Instead Of RT On Twitter? (RT @rocketmatter)]. Just feels intuitively right to me although I can see how it can be confusing.

    • tim

      Yeah, I’ve seen RTs at the end of a few tweets. Now that’s kinda radical 🙂 Though I do like the idea of having a go-to like MT as a pseudo-standard, I’m wary of too many “rules” that bog down an otherwise simple to use platform.

  3. Don

    I like the MT and I’d consider it Modified or Manual tweet. Thx for the article.


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