Today the same happened: Twitter was on fire with user reports of the Los Angeles earthquake 9 minutes before the first AP wire came out.
It’s an undeniable trend – but is it important?
I received some flak in comments to the previous two posts, for neglecting to mention that I was comparing apples to oranges. New agencies have the responsibility to verify information and it takes time. Reliability over Speed. Fair enough. ReadWriteWeb asked the question: Did Twitter Really ‘Outshine’ the Mainstream Press?
The only thing Twitter does better than the traditional news is speed. It doesn’t do depth, it doesn’t do fact-checking, it doesn’t do real reporting. It does breaking news, and it does that very well — in many cases these days better than the mainstream press (in terms of how fast it breaks news).
Very well said, and I think we need both: speed and depth. Ironically, MG Siegler’s post @ VentureBeat describing twitter’s power in such situations provided an example for the opposite by including what appeared to be the very first video footage of the LA quake.
I watched it without sound first, but was immediately suspicious:
I wonder what this video shows. It’s NOT the building shaking. The movement is too fast, and it’s inside the room, relative to the window frames we see. It looks more like a camera quickly moved left and right.
If this was an indication of how the building moved, we’d see a lot less movement behind the window (inside) and a lot more outside.
It did not take long to get confirmation on Venturebeat:
Update 2: The 12seconds vid was fake, posted after the fact, a co-founder of 12seconds confirmed.
So there you have it. People do take advantage of the relative naivete of social media and don’t hesitate to post fake news to gain 5 minutes of fame. But that doesn’t undermine the importance of speed, which in some cases can provide early alerts and potentially save lives. We need both.