Breaking News on Social Media: Rushing to Share Info Without Checking Validity

BrianAdamsPR
Brian Adams US Communications Director, WildAid

Posted on March 19th 2013

Breaking News on Social Media: Rushing to Share Info Without Checking Validity

Now that we have access to information from around the world 24/7, it’s up to us what we believe. The faster it arrives in our feeds the quicker we can pass it along as truth to our followers. But what if our sources have it wrong? Are we adding to the confusion? When it comes to breaking news, are social media outlets such as Twitter just one big game of “Telephone”?

Case in point: Lil Wayne.

As of Friday evening everyone seems to agree that rapper Lil Wayne is in a hospital, but that’s where the stories diverge. If you believe @LilTunechi’s Twitter account then he is doing well:

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 If you follow Lil Wayne’s friends then he may just be watching the Syracuse game:

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With more information to come:

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However, if you read tweets and reports from @TMZ you may have learned that Lil Wayne was in a coma, receiving his last rites (TMZ has since removed this “deathbed” detail from its story). The media outlet has posted several brief reports on Twitter including:

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Which leads to news reports like this:

ImageFollowed by this:

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As reports break on stories around the world, the speed at which we receive information is unbelievable which is why we should always take a beat and wait before adding to the noise. Or at the very least, admitting to our Chicken Little mentalities and posting our corrections in full view of our followers. How do you share breaking news?

BrianAdamsPR

Brian Adams

US Communications Director, WildAid

Brian Adams (@brianadamspr) is the US Communications Director @WildAid. He also consults with nonprofits, including Komera Project and Samahope, regarding communications strategy. Brian was previously Senior Director of Communications at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and the head of Media and Community Relations for the MSPCA-Angell. A version of this story first appeared on the author's blog.

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Comments

David Mitchel
Posted on March 19th 2013 at 3:09PM

There's a very intricate art in the balance between being first to post an item and getting it right. Getting it right should be the ultimate goal, but there's an understandable pressure to get there first and have the first mover advantage.

iambarrywark@gmail.com
Posted on March 21st 2013 at 9:46PM

Social media is the popular source of trending topics nowadays. Most people will see to it that they are the first to know, comment and babble about it, without even trying to find out whether it is true or not. This is one negative side of social media, a simple post could be sensationalized and be given another meaning. Before you know it, it already became complicated enough to make or reak something.