Thursday, April 4, 2013

Checking accuracy: Using social media as a news source

An increasing number of people are using social media these days, and with world-spanning information access now available 24/7, more people have started using social media as their primary news source, which raises this question: Are breaking news reported in social media outlets, like Twitter and Facebook, real and accurate?

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Information that flows through social media is fast, and news spreads around quickly like wildfire. For instance, the Arab Spring, a revolutionary event that spanned many countries and toppled governments, was found to have been organized through Facebook and Twitter.

However, this fast flow of information is also a downside of social media since many incidences of inaccurate or even doctored or falsified information being passed on to billions of people have occurred in recent years. The Lil Wayne incident is one example. On March 15th, news agencies around the country reported that famous rapper Lil Wayne was hospitalized, but from there, their stories began to deviate from one another. According to Lil Wayne’s Twitter account, he is doing well and even thanked people for praying for him and sending out love. Lil Wayne’s friend Mack Maine also said that Lil Wayne is, in fact, alright and is even watching the Syracuse game with them. However, celebrity gossip site TMZ tweeted that Lil Wayne was in a critical condition after suffering from more seizures. With these many versions of a single story, it is hard to find out what really happened.

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As this example shows, it is imperative that people first check the veracity of a story being shared over social media before sharing it to others, so as not to contribute to the noise and the distribution of gossip masquerading as a news story.  

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Socialtyze, which was founded by advertising maven John Bohan, helps its clients understand what it means for a brand to be social. Visit its website for more details.

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