I've talked about "Twitter News" before and had no real desire to revisit the topic. But after reading Adam Pasick's Reuters article entitled "Breaking News, Twitter Style" I couldn't help myself. He starts by saying...
News of a possible explosion rippled through the popular online service Twitter on Tuesday, in a preview of what’s to come in the realm of breaking news and citizen journalism. Twitter is a so-called microblogging site that allows users to send and receive short messages.
At about 1:37 pm, software developer Dave Winer asked the Twitterverse: “Explosion in Falls Church, VA?” (Perhaps not coincidentally, Winer is a well-known blogger and podcasting evangelist). A flurry of posts, or “tweets,” followed, as users reported rumbles as far away as Alexandria.
What was the story behind this "Explosion" in Virginia?
By 2:56 pm — nearly 90 minutes after Winer’s initial alert — WTOP had the official word from the U.S. Geological Survey: A not-exactly-massive 1.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Annandale, VA.
So basically the article praises Twitter for delivering completely inaccurate news because it did it 90 minutes early. I mean, the news was COMPLETELY WRONG.
Not only that, it was misleading. The conclusions you draw from an explosion are completely different from those drawn from an earthquake. If I have relatives working/living around Falls Church, VA I'd be terrified to hear there was an explosion. A reaction that is completely different from the one I'd have after hearing there was a 1.8 magnitude earthquake in which NO ONE WAS HURT.
What is the point of news if not to deliver important information to people so they can act on it in the appropriate way? If the news is completely inaccurate and prompts an inappropriate reaction isn't it useless?
Twitter is an adult version of the old Telephone Game. A game that was designed to teach little kids how inaccurate this type of communication is.
Honestly folks, are we now to the point where we're so enamored with ourselves that we've forgotten lessons learnerd in Kindergarten? We now celebrate our ability to report inaccuracies? The wisdom of the crowd is sacrosanct even if the crowd is completely wrong?