Tom Webster, writing and speaking

The Blind Retweet

Added on by Tom Webster.

Here's a stat I'd love to know - what percentage of retweeted links on Twitter are never actually read by the retweeters? So many of the current crop of Twitter influence/trust measuring services place a great deal of weight on the "retweet" - perhaps more than is healthy. Some may factor retweets in as just one component of their algorithm, but then use other third-party Twitter measures (that are also largely based on retweets) as other components, which may actually compound the error. What I don't know, though, is if any of these services measure the "blind" retweets - those links passed along without being actually read by the retweeter - and if those particular retweets are treated differentially. The fact is, just as there are multiple reasons why someone might retweet a link, there are equally numerous reasons why someone might retweet a link they didn't actually click on. Some of these are innocuous enough (they might have already read it, for instance, as Matt Ridings reminded me), while others may be purely sycophantic. Some retweets stem from a genuine trust in the original source; others are simple gamesmanship. That a retweet - especially of unread content - implies influence of some kind is probably axiomatic; however, since the motive for a retweet can't be parsed by a machine, the degree to which a blind retweet implies trust can't really be discerned with an acceptable degree of certainty.

So, here is my open question to you, dear readers. Is a retweet of a link I did click on qualitatively or quantitatively different than a retweet of a link I didn't click on? I'd especially love to hear from anyone in the Twitter grade/level/clout measuring business. I'm open minded about this - convince me in the comments. The floor is yours...