Thursday, December 15, 2011

Misinformation on Twitter

With over 200 million Twitter contributors*, misinformation is bound to happen.

It would be pretty interesting if there was a study to determine the frequency of misinformation created by authors in the world of Web 2.0. Maybe there is such a study. I should look.

Regardless, misinformation is regularly created in the form of rumors, honest mistakes and malinformation (intentionally misleading facts and opinions).  Tweets are a good example.

UK's The Guardian has collected seven rumors that attracted a following on Twitter, spread and then died out. These include: 'Rioters attack London zoo and release animals,' 'Rioters cook their own food in McDonalds' and 'Army deployed in Bank.' Here's the complete list and an interactive app to explore the rumors and their trajectories.

All of the rumors are what you could classify as 'breaking news.' Twitter became famous as a source of breaking news during events such as the US Airways flight that ended in the Hudson River. Twitter often scoops other news sources because of eyewitnesses who tweet what they happen to see. Sometimes the stories turn out to be true. Other times they don't.

How do you tell the difference between a 'truth' and a 'rumor?' This would be a great conversation to have with middle school, high school and college students. What can you do not to fall prey to rumors?

* FYI -- Finding the current number of Twitter users makes a pretty good search challenge.

1 comment:

Carl Heine said...

The rumor that Jon Bon Jovi was dead is yet another example of misinformation that gains a following and persists after the 'victim' posts a rebuttal.