I’ve talked about how I think it’s ridiculous to call Twitter a news source before. I wasn’t planning to revisit it. But this quote from Michael Arrington of Techcrunch kind of set me off.
Twitter isn’t the place for solid facts yet - the situation is way too disorganized. But it’s where the news is breaking. GroundReport is doing a good job of aggregating citizen reports, and a Wikipedia page is being edited with the known facts so far.
How can you say something like that? The facts ARE THE NEWS. Nothing else is relevant. In fact, the noise that twitter generates in situations like these is downright cruel and dangerous.
Let me give you the perfect example of what I mean.
If you watch Twitter you’ll see people reporting an attack at the Marriot Hotel in Mumbai. The problem is there was NO ATTACK on the Marriot. The Ramada hotel next door was attacked by several gun men but nothing’s happened at the Marriot.
Now imagine, if you’re someone who has family or friends at the Marriot right now. You’d be scared out of your mind over information that’s completely false.
I’m sorry but it really makes me angry. What you have here are people who simply don’t care if they get the news right. They’re turning the most dire of situations into entertainment by using Twitter to “be involved in the story.” They throw their little tweets out not caring who they scare half to death and then brag about how great Twitter is for “beating the mainstream media at reporting the news.”
Honestly, I’m tempted to say it should be a crime what some of these people are doing (and in fact was for a time)
Update: Techdirt led me to this article (and linked here, thanks for that). I addressed this in a later post but I did want to make the point quickly here. The flaw in saying "the mainstream media gets it wrong to" is that you are equating a 1-to-1 correlation. But that's not the case. The media does have safeguards to reporting false information, even if those safeguards sometimes fail. Twitter has none. This leads to Twitter reporting false info more frequently and to that false information being far worse than what the media would report. For example, I doubt the mainstream media has ever reported a 1.8 magnitude earthquake as an explosion.