New York Times Bans the Word ‘Tweet’

By Tyler Sutherland

Most social media users, and the general population familiar with the Internet, will tell you the word ‘tweet’ is what a single message on Twitter is known as. The New York Times may beg to differ.

In a memo to its staff last week, standards editor Phil Corbett said, “outside of ornithological contexts, ‘tweet’ had not yet achieved the status of standard English, and standard English is what we should use in news articles.”

Corbett goes on to say … “except for special effect, we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And ‘tweet’ — as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter — is all three. Of course, new technology terms sprout and spread faster than ever. And we don’t want to seem paleolithic. But we favor established usage and ordinary words over the latest jargon or buzzwords.”

“Tweet” may be acceptable occasionally for special effect. But let’s look for deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update. Or, once you’ve established that Twitter is the medium, simply use “say” or “write.”

What’s next? Banning the word ‘poke’ because of its connection to Facebook? Come to think of it … do people still use the poke feature?