January 14, 2009

Do You Trust Your Twitter News Sources?

By Mona Nomura of Pixel Bits (FriendFeed/Twitter)

Yesterday morning, a disturbing Tweet in ALL CAPS from @BreakingNewsOn caught my eye. It read something amongst the lines of: "EXPLOSION IN DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN". Since I live in Manhattan, this Tweet was particularly relevant to me so I did the first thing any Internet savvy person would do. I Googled. But there was recent no news pertaining to "explosion + Manhattan". I went back to Twitter to double check the Tweet.

It was gone. (But you can see it archived in Twitter search here)

The Tweet, Later Retracted, Via Twitter Search

I looked through their timeline to see if a retraction was published but didn't see anything - it was as if the Tweet didn't happen. Granted, BreakingNewsOn is not a major news network, but as a benchmark:@BreakingNewsOn has 18,643 followers 152 Tweeter more than CNN. 18,643 people may not seem like a lot of followers, but calculated exponentially - they reach a lot of people. And for a news source that isn't a major name, they're doing pretty well in Twitter-land, wouldn't you say?

Given how they call themselves the "most credible Twitter news source." on their bio, I decided to give them a few minutes to publish a retraction, a notice they got hacked - something, anything about the false news report.

An hour went by - nothing.

So I did the next best thing -- Tweeted my concern and brought the discussion to FriendFeed and @BreakingNewsOn immediately responded via DM (direct message)

Though I give them credit for the prompt response, they have lost a lot of credibility with me. That said, this this incident got me thinking: How credible are Twitter news sources? Is deleting Tweets especially retractions acceptable? As an Internet content provider, how responsible and accountable should you be?

Do you trust your Twitter news sources?

Read more by Mona Nomura at Pixel Bits