Friday, February 11, 2011

Tweeting the News? Beware of retweeting errors at warp speed

The perils of tweeting the news from one reporter's perspective. Click here for a thoughtful confession session from Colum Lynch, a Foreign Policy blogger responsible for Turtle Bay and its tweets.

Twitter is a rumor mill, a high-tech, and often partisan, upgrade on the old office water cooler -- except this version lets your boss, your friends, your critics, and everyone else listen in. But like office gossip and rumors, a lot of it is often dead wrong...
The denizens of Twitter, I've discovered, aren't always acting in bad faith. But the medium has a way of allowing old-fashioned mistakes from obscure publications or even traditional news organizations to spread like wildfire. The retweet is an especially ambivalent Twitter function for those who use the service to gather news. Retweeting allows you to forward an interesting tweet or link to your own community of followers while leaving the original Tweeter to vouch for its credibility. The lax norms around retweets can let an incorrect story initially sent out to a handful of people gain exposure to a wider audience of tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions.

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