Twitter: Designed for Interesting Messaging

March 15, 2018

Fake news is getting harder to control and social media networks makes it harder to weed out the truth from the lies. Engadget shares how, “Twitter’s Fake News Problem Is Getting Worse” and how tragedy exacerbates the problem. For example, when a crazed shooter opened fired at a high school in Parkland, Florida, social media, including Twitter, helped spread fake news. The fake news misidentified the gunman, the number of gunmen, how a comedian was one of the shooters when it was just a meme, and misidentified missing people.

The problem is getting worse with doctored news stories, reporters being accused of false claims, and then misinformed readers reposting the information again and again. The most ironic thing is that this is what social media, especially Twitter was designed for:

“It’s just further evidence that Twitter’s fake-news problem is getting worse. After all, Twitter’s very nature is to spread information at lightning speed with little to no oversight. And ironically, it is this quality that brought Twitter to prominence in the first place. One of Twitter’s defining moments was when Janis Krum tweeted about U.S. Airways Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009 — he was the first to have reported it, and the tweet soon went viral. “It changed everything,” Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told CNBC in 2013. “Suddenly the world turned its attention because we were the source of news — and it wasn’t us, it was this person in the boat using the service.” Twitter was no longer just a place for discussing what you had for lunch. It became a place where you could get news from real people experiencing events first-hand, which was often faster than mainstream news.”

Using Twitter and other social media networks as news aggregators has brought a fresh perspective to Internet social interactions. Fake news is easily generated and shared not only by bots, but by Internet trolls and then multiplied by people who do not think critically about content.

Here’s a Beyond Search tip: Refrain from reposting anything you are unsure about, but most people do not have the filters nor the skills to distinguish fact from fiction. For many, their beliefs make the facts. Twitter and similar tools become easy to use amplifiers.

Twitter and other social networks do have a responsibility to curb the false news. In the past, old-fashioned newspapers were ideally held accountable and reporters strove to fact check all their articles. Whatever happened to the fact checking department? (Tip: Library reference desks might be an oasis for some fact checkers.) Maybe we need to create a tool that runs everything through Wikipedia first which seems to be the easy way for Google to wriggle off the hook for certain types of content.

Whitney Grace, March 15, 2018


One Response to “Twitter: Designed for Interesting Messaging”

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