In recent years, Twitter has become a popular forum for sharing scholarly ideas. As such, it is helpful to establish some basic citation guidelines for this social media site.
First, some basic terms. Twitter is a social media site, which means that it is a website designed to enable individuals to create and share ideas, photos, articles, and the like. Users are identified by an @ sign and a unique user ID (called a handle; e.g., @SBLPress). Unlike Facebook, which allows for extended discussions, Twitter permits users to share content only in short, 140-character posts (called tweets). These tweets can be shared (retweeted), or they can be replied to publicly or privately. The brevity of Twitter allows for a rapid exchange of ideas, but the context is often lost in the exchange or entirely absent. Tweets appear on a user’s feed, depending on the predefined settings that the user establishes. Although tweets are primarily associated with their authors, they can also be associated with a hashtag (#), which allows tweets pertaining to a particular topic to be grouped together (e.g., #sblaar16). In general, all content on Twitter should be considered public unless sent through private channels.
1. Treat Twitter homepages like other websites (CMS §14.245). Include the name of the page, the website, and the URL.
SBL Press Twitter page, http://tinyurl.com/hwsjd9y.
“SBL Press.” Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/hwsjd9y.
Note: Contra CMS, the SBLHS 2 does not include access dates.
2. Treat hashtags as nouns when referring to them in a sentence. If your audience is likely to be unfamiliar with Twitter, include the word hashtag before the reference.
The hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName remind non-African Americans of issues that black communities in the United States have long faced …
(Example taken from Brooten 2017, 229)
3. Treat tweets as informal communications (see CMS §14.222; CMS FAQ).
a. Do not include a citation in the bibliography.
b. Note the name of the commenter, the means of communication, the date, and URL. If the tweet is cited in a sentence, include the user handle in parenthesis rather than the URL.
2. SBL Press, Twitter comment, 12 February 2017, http://twitter.com/SBLPress.
4. In a comment on Twitter on 12 February 2017, SBL Press (@SBLPress) stated …
Since not all readers will understand the nuances of Twitter, we recommend referring to posts on Twitter as comments rather than as tweets.
c. When the tweet relates to a published piece, include information about the published piece.
5. Commenting on the recent New York Times article about the Met Museum (Joshua Barone, “Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free,” New York Times, 7 February 2017, http://tinyurl.com/h6z4ob7), Jane Doe stated on Twitter (12 February 2017) ….
The published piece should be included in the bibliography.
3. Although most tweets are public, we recommend that authors ask permission of the commenter before publishing a tweet in a scholarly work. Such comments are often intended as casual conversation by the commenter, who may not wish the words to be widely publicized. When possible, ask first.
4. Twitter threads display ads, company profiles, and personal information for a variety of users, not all of whom may be directly involved in the discussion at hand. To preserve the privacy of all involved, one should avoid including screenshots of a Twitter feed. Rather, type any relevant comments into your discussion.
With Twitter, as with other forms of social media, we encourage our readers to use common sense. Social media is helpful in that it provides a forum for the rapid exchange of ideas and information. In such an environment, however, not all users display appropriate discretion. Remember that anything you post or comment upon will be around for a long time and may be seen by a wider audience than intended, even if your settings are private. Consider whether a private phone call or email is a more appropriate course of action, and remember to take context into consideration as much as possible when citing another’s comment. Consider also why you are citing a comment. Is it to report significant information, to illustrate a given point, or to make someone else look bad? Social media sometimes brings out the worst impulses in even good people. Respectful academic discourse makes no room for such actions and reactions, preferring rather to engage another in productive dialogue than to shut the other person up.
Be sure to follow @SBLPress on Twitter for updates about new publications, e-book releases, and special sales.
Brooten, Bernadette J. 2017. “Research on the New Testament and Early Christian Literature May Assist the Churches in Setting Ethical Priorities.” JBL 136:229-36.