Trust in Twitter? Not for hard news, thanks

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A few weeks ago, Marianna asked a very important question—what information can be trusted on the web? Earlier this week, we found out that a Washington Post reporter has been suspended due to a “false” report on Twitter. Mike Wise, a Post columnist, Tweeted that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would face a five game suspension—a fact he knew to be false. He later said that the act was an experiment, to see how fast the information would spread.  Brilliant!

Maybe I’m behind the curve, but I don’t tend to think that Twitter posts are 100% reliable information.  But, maybe it depends on the source. Would you trust a columnist’s post, if the outlet was the Washington Post? Or the New York Times?  What about celebrities? John Cusack recently “made threats” to Fox news based comments posted on his Twitter page. Are these to be taken seriously? What about Carmelo Anthony’s offer to pay $5,000 to the first person to post a video of “Kat Stacks” being slapped?  The list goes on for celebrities and athletes alike who have “lost their cool” on Twitter.

So the real question is, do we put too much trust in the online world?  I’ll confess, I think Twitter is a useful tool for pointing out interesting information, providing insight into our varying perspectives or expertise, or promoting specific campaigns.  Retail outlets are making headway by offering sale specials exclusively on Twitter —a tactic that has proven successful for some great brands.

But where do we draw the line in believing what we read online? If a salesperson for Apple tweeted that the company was giving away free iPads, would the brand be held responsible to live up to the claim? I suggest that before we take everything that’s said on Facebook or Twitter at face value, we take a minute to remember that real life means face-to-face communication. We ourselves must be the fact checkers and keep companies, and reporters, honest.

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3 Responses to “Trust in Twitter? Not for hard news, thanks”

  1. Larry Marchese Says:

    Interesting blog today, Jamie. Twitter certainly still represents the far reaches of the “media” frontier. I’m still bogged down in trying to accept Twitter as legitimate (rather than trivial) because of the roar of meaningless crap like FourSquare (why on earth do I care that someone I follow stopped at Starbucks for a latte at 7:18 AM on their way to work at 855 Boylston St???). Someday, we’ll be able to sift through the good and the bad of social media. But for now, it’s not to be trusted.

    Oh, and shame on Mike Wise for his experiment unless it was cleared by his superiors at the paper (and probably Big Ben) first.

  2. Reports of the press release’s demise have been greatly exaggerated « EZG Blog Says:

    […] demise have been greatly exaggerated By Brian Keaney The web has been all a-Twitter lately.  Jamie and Kyle have both written about it over the past few weeks, and around the bustling halls of EZG […]

  3. Reports of the press release’s demise have been greatly exaggerated « BrianKeaney.org Says:

    […] web has been all a-Twitter lately.  Jamie and Kyle have both written about it over the past few weeks, and around the bustling halls of EZG […]

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