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The #Subtweet - #Twitter Trademarks Passive Aggression

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The term 'Subtweet' has been going around for a while. It's the established nomenclature for tweets that are characteristically about someone, but don't name them. It's a way of talking about someone behind their back, but deliberately publicly, and not to anyone in particular. It is the most new-age version of passive aggression you can get. It's far from unique to Twitter, I see it on Facebook all the time and some rather unsightly corners of Tumblr are notorious for it, but Subtweet is the only established term for it, and now Twitter own the rights to that term.

They've pulled this kind of thing before, having previously hit 'Tweetstorms' with the copyright stamp. Tweetstorms, for the unaware, are rants, a series of interconnected tweets which angle around the 140 character limit to crate a bizarre, fragmented blog post, effectively. Neither one is really worth owning the rights to on a fundamental basis, but this is more about brand protection. Remember how in the original 1960s Batman series every gadget, vehicle and widget had the word 'Bat' stapled to it? This is pretty much that, just on a corporate scale.

Typically, Subtweets outline some kind of personal grievance, commonly used by teenagers, embarrassingly used by anyone older. On Twitter, you'd be more likely to see Subtweets which actually name someone directly, just without @ tagging them. This can also extend to famous individuals, since if you offer any kind of positive comment, you're probably going to want to take the (very slim) chance of them actually seeing, or even retweeting it. This kind of talk isn't reserved for Twitter, but it isn't characterised the same way on Facebook, since it would be a little odd to go to the effort of tagging a fan page whose subject you're ranting about.

In either case, it's far from a vital bastion of modern online culture, if anything, it's one of the least desirable aspects of social media. Having a platform to express your thoughts openly is all well and good, but using it to surreptitiously attack people, rather than taking the issue up with them personally isn't a habit which should really be prevailing into adulthood. Twitter probably aren't too fussed about that, they just want to stake their claim on that noise birds make.




Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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The #Subtweet - #Twitter Trademarks Passive Aggression Reviewed by Callum Davies on Tuesday, December 08, 2015 Rating: 5

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