Saturday, February 4, 2012

Death by Twitter

Recently, there has been an influx of death hoaxes on Twitter. The most recent victim of such hoaxes is singer and songwriter, Adele. Jon Bon Jovi, Cher, and even Kathy Lee Gifford have also fallen victim to this “trend” on Twitter. So the question remains, what can be done about it?

Both public relations professionals and aspiring public relations professionals alike know not to believe everything we read on Twitter, but does the mass public? No. As a society, we have become reliant upon Twitter for updates in emergency situations or even to find out the latest celebrity gossip. On the flip side, the high speed nature of Twitter makes it very easy to disperse false and inaccurate information at an equally alarming rate. Twitter has built credibility on being the “first” and the “fastest” at relaying information, so it has been made very easy to simply retweet something without the thought of investigating the matter any further.

We are all familiar with the quip that “with great power comes great responsibility” as stated in Uncle Ben’s (Spiderman’s uncle) iconic speech. It’s the responsibility of Twitter to make sure that news such as deaths are verified and reliable, if Twitter is to maintain and increase its credibility as a news source. As long as Twitter strives to be the “first” and the “fastest” at relaying information, it needs to be able to counteract this demand with the ability to be the first to correct any false and inaccurate information that is tweeted.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Cori Shearer.

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