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Twitter users unable to spell, according to report

Graeme Parton

A study carried out by Brandwatch has found that Twitter users are more likely to make basic spelling mistakes than those who use Facebook and Google+.

According to the figures, one in 150 words posted in English on the microblogging site is incorrect in some way, with misused apostrophes cited as the biggest crime.

The issue of misplaced – or complete lack of – apostrophes was closely followed by every modern grammarian’s favourite bugbear: the acronym. The two most prominent annoyances being YOLO, or you only live once, and LOL, which translates as laugh out loud.

Those who regularly use the site will likely mention its limit of 140 characters as the main reason for what would initially seem like lazy linguistic errors; particularly shortened words and missing punctuation.

The report involved the analysis of nearly one million online interactions, all of which were randomly chosen from forums, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Speaking about the results, Brandwatch’s Lead Community Manager, Joel Windels, said:

“Whether through deliberate misuse or ignorance, it is clear that the nature of Twitter and its strict character limit continues to encourage a higher rate of unofficial English. But rather than bemoaning the loss of the language, shouldn’t we instead be recognising this for what it is – a natural evolution?”

The research comes after English professor Simon Horobin, from Magdalen College, Oxford, suggested the words “their”, “there” and “they’re” could all share the same spelling. Speaking at literary festival recently, he said:

“I am not saying we should just spell freely, but sometimes we have to accept spellings change.”

As well as causing annoyance among some internet users, misspellings have the potential to damage a brand’s reputation as consumers lose faith in the business’s competence and professionalism. To avoid this happening, many business owners work with professional content providers.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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