Just how influential is Twitter? Not only is constantly reviewing your Twitter stream bound to keep you well informed, but also Twitter has become the fastest way to break news about anything. As such, Twitter is now a reputable source for college kids seeking research and for reporters looking to find out where a story began. But, there’s just one problem with trying to include anything that was originally reported through Twitter: how do you cite something that came from the social network?
Well, the Modern Language Association has come up with a way for people to cite Tweets in MLA format. If your professor told you that you have to write a paper using MLA format, you’ll want to pay attention to this new way of citing a Tweet (especially if your professor dares argue that Twitter is not a reliable source!).
MLA Twitter Formatting
According to the new Modern Language Association citation guide, this is the proper way to cite a tweet:
Last Name, First Name (User Name). "Text of the tweet." Date, Time. Tweet.
Looks simple enough, right? Well, it is simple, but who are the people behind the MLA and why do they get to decide how to format a tweet? While you still have to use the above citation guide if you want to cite a Tweet properly according to MLA style, it’s interesting to note that the MLA is made up of a number of professors and fellows from Stanford, the Hoover Institution, and Pennsylvania State (at the time of this writing).
Those who govern the MLA board do change from time to time, and the MLA weighs in on important matters (like the Twitter situation) daily. The reasoning behind the decided Twitter citation guide is somewhat unclear, but, logically, the MLA had to come up with a way for people who use this formatting type to cite Twitter, since Twitter is such an important source these days.
Other Ways of Citing Tweets
The MLA is not the first organization to attempt to cite tweets. A number of professors and wordsmiths around the world have cited tweets in interesting manners before. But, since the MLA is the MLA, this citation format has gained a lot of press while others haven’t. Still, it might be an interesting study to go back (at some point in time) and view the ways that various people and outfits have cited tweets throughout history (a great book idea, isn’t it?).
Really, you can cite a tweet any way that you want to if you aren’t bound by the rules of the MLA. The important thing is that you give credit where credit is due, so make sure to cite a tweet that you are using in some manner. The end result of all this citation discussion is that Twitter is becoming such an important source of information that it can no longer be kept away from academic institutions and scholarly papers. Also, if you gain all of your news from Twitter, you can now rest-assured that there’s an acceptable way to cite a Tweet – phew!