Social Medipedia

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Remember the days when Wikipedia was about as valid of a source as the story told from the guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who has some drug dealer cousin that heard the story from some girl? Even though Wikipedia has become a bit more valid of a source for information, people still have a negative connotation toward citing it as a source for papers.

Social media is now threatening to become the new Wikipedia.

Much like the collective collaboration concept of Wikipedia was great, the immediacy of news on social media is a great concept. It is how we, as a whole, choose to use this tool that will determine how it will be perceived in the future. Posting breaking news on hearsay and questionable information will be the downfall of the reputation for social media as a news outlet.

An article on editorsweblog.org brings up a great question: is tweet first, ask questions later the best policy? Is it so important for people to know right away? When there is the risk of your tweet being incorrect, there is a chance that you will lose credibility. Have enough incorrect tweets, you will not be a valid information source to a large population of the online news readers.

A different article
on editorsweblog.org discusses how several different news companies handle the balance between immediacy versus accuracy. There are ways for these two important news elements to live in harmony, and it would bode well for journalists everywhere is the world would ensure accuracy in their reports. Even something as small as a tweet can cause a massive reaction, and misinformation can end up doing more harm than help.

Do you have any ideas on how to ensure accuracy? How do you make sure your tweets aren't full of false information?

Photo courtesy of creative commons.

3 comments:

Megan Evans October 3, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

It is quite indisputably much easier to make inaccurate comments these days. Twitter and facebook updates can happen within seconds of an incident's occurrence, leaving little time to double-check the facts. I think it is great we now have the capability to find out about breaking news in almost real time, but it does come with the price of possible inaccuracies. If people would attempt at least one other reference before posting information, we could possibly slow the amount of wrong information that is being exchanged.

However, newspapers and television programs have errors in their reporting from time to time, and they often have a greater window of time to fact-check their stories. Reporting false information is damaging to a person's reputation, but so long as the errors are corrected and they are infrequent, I believe it is a small price to pay for the advances we have now.

Mike Tweeton October 3, 2011 at 6:16 PM  

Great post David. This raises an excellent social dilemma. Many turn to social media for instant information, but how can that information be guaranteed trustworthy?
About a month ago, charges were pressed against two adults in Mexico who falsely posted information that a local school was under attack by terrorists. This spawned mass panic. Even though the posting parties claim it was done as a joke, there were serious consequences to their actions.
I have also read that this exact situation is leading to a new role in businesses, the social media editor. Companies will hire professions to monitor social media sites and debunk any false information. This seems like a sort of social media public relations job.
I think it is truly up to the reader though to decide what to believe and what not to believe.

Ben Rodgers October 4, 2011 at 10:04 PM  

It is very tough to know whether or not something you find on social media is credible or not. The one thing to do is look who is posting it. If it is someone who is credible in the field chances are they know what they are talking about. Other ways to see if a source is credible is to see if other news outlets are writing about it. With social media it's hard to tell anybody can post anything.

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