It’s become commonplace for responsible bloggers to disclose their allegiances, investments and interests. For example, Tim Bray does it all the time, and here’s Jennifer Leggio’s disclosure statement.
On this site, I prefix client-related stuff with ‘Client Plug’, or indicate something similar in the opening paragraph. I also try to make it clear that I was invited to an event for free or received something for review. This whole blogger disclosure discussion became particularly important with the advent of sponsored posts and links.
But what about Twitter? There are plenty of reasons to like the 140 character limit, but it hardly encourages transparency. There’s rarely enough space to disclose one’s interests. On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed people tweeting about projects with which they’re affiliated without making that association obvious. The most common scenario is when Person A tweets about something, and Person B replies with “wow, that’s a fantastic thing, good luck with that thing” when Person A and Person B in fact work together.
I’m certainly guilty of retweeting client projects without disclosure. Here’s an example from today:
As I mentioned, we’re working with ActiveState on a new project. And you’d see their name on our client page on our company site. Yet a casual Twitter follower might have no idea of the formal, financial connection between myself and ActiveState.
Unicode to the Rescue?
A common solution here might be a hash tag, such as #clientplug or #disclosurepending or something. That would do, I guess, though it already takes up a fair number of characters. If you’re interesting in seeing a message spread, then space is already at a premium.
Here’s a silly idea. What if there were a generally accepted unicode character that you could add to tweets to imply that you had a personal stake in the message? A kind of disclosure shorthand that people could follow up on if they had questions. Maybe it’s Ã¢ËœÂ, as in “I have strong connections here”? Or maybe Ã¢ËœÂ, as in “I’m promoting this organization”? Or maybe just Ã¢â„¢Å¸, as in “I’m a tiny pawn in this giant corporation”?
What do you think? Does disclosure on Twitter even matter?