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Seamus McCauley
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I'm Seamus McCauley, former publisher, media strategist, sales manager, editor, photographer, historian and amateur economist, currently taking a break. I blog at Virtual Economics.
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Virtual Economics
  • Proposing a disclosure taxonomy for Twitter

    People often talk about publicly-listed companies on Twitter. There's already an agreed taxonomy for doing so - you take the ticker of the company, and precede it with a dollar sign. Thus Google is $GOOG, Apple is $AAPL, Microsoft is $MSFT. Search for postings about Google by sticking $GOOG into the search box and you get a page like this

    I don't think anyone's going to argue that Twitter is not a professional journalism tool - what started out as a toy is obviously now a vital part of the news economy. So we need a way to add disclosures to tweets about companies, preferably one that doesn't take up too much space and allows for some nuance. It would make the whole system more transparent and save people having to either leave out important information about their interests in the companies they discuss or use up significant proportions of the 140 character limit saying things like this in longhand. 

    (I am - of course - not the first person to think of this. More than a year ago Darren Barefoot proposed a unicode character for this purpose. But that system doesn't seem to have achieved the wider use it deserved, and I suspect that's because a lot of Twitterers wouldn't find it that easy to dig out the relevant unicode symbols.)

    So here's my draft proposal, improvements very much invited. While the US dollar ("$") is used to denote a company ticker, we're not using the UK pound sterling symbol ("£") as shorthand for anything yet. Here's how Twitter disclosures could look:

    £D:L    I am long this company

    £D:S    I am short this company

    £D:I     I am an investor (VC, angel) in this company

    £D:E    I am an employee of this company

    £D:O    I have options in this company

    £D:C    I am a contractor/freelance/other paid contributor to this company

    £D:X    I am an ex-employee of this company

    £D:F     I am a personal friend of (the founders/employees/people mentioned at) this company

    £D:H    I have enjoyed hospitality at the expense of this company

    £D:A    This is advertorial: I am being paid to write about this company

    Maybe too many. Maybe not enough. Maybe there's a shorter way of doing it, so just writing "£L" for a long position is just as good and shorter? But then a short position as "£S" is ambiguous and looks like "pounds", so maybe it's better to have something that's clearly an intentional shorthand that can't be mistaken for anything else. Anyway, just a thought to get something started. What do we think?  

    Disclosure: No position
    Nov 15 2:14 AM | Link | Comment!
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