Posted by: carolbcarolb | April 22, 2012

A Lie Races Across Twitter Before The Truth Can Boot Up

As I compiled research from the internet for a work project, I noticed a lot of it came from blogs. I had to really look at all this info to try to sort out what was factual before submitting my report. I started thinking about untruths and rumors and how fast they can speed across the internet. And in the race to be the first to report a dramatic headline, even some legitimate news organizations will publish a scandalous story before checking the integrity of the information.

Rumors are more and more mistaken for news, an example of a recent one surrounded Gov. Haley of South Carolina. An unfounded report on a little-known blog claimed that the governor was about to be indicted for tax fraud. This rumor spread quickly and was picked up by mainstream media outlets in an incredibly short period of time. Agree with her politics or not, knowing that rumors can travel at the speed of light and be legitimized by publishing in mainstream press is a little scary.

A timeline of the speed of the Haley rumor from tweet to legitimate news headlines is in the middle of this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/us/politics/false-nikki-haley-twitter-report-spreads-fast.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.

Can we recognize a rumor anymore? In the era of instant everything, rumors get to enjoy enough time in the limelight to make an impression on the public, and even if corrections are posted later, the damage could be irreversible.

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Responses

  1. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. To compound the problem, the big bureaucracies – whether corporate or government – find it very difficult to compete with what’s happening. In my own world, a good day is when I have time to figure out what is being said about us. A bad day is when I am so busy doing the other work I am supposed to be doing that there is no time to even look or listen.

    Regardless, it is almost impossible for me to respond. As an agency, we’ve had our fair share (and, at least sometimes, unfair share) of bad PR. We’ve also become good (I would say too good) at “just taking it.” It’s a triple whammy for us. Most of the time, we are legally unable to respond. When the law isn’t the issue, the time it takes to convince the decision-makers is. Even if we managed to scale both of those fences, there simply isn’t the will to engage the spectrum of people trolling through social media. So, for the foreseeable future, we will continue to take our lumps – deserved or not.


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