Twitter seems to be the fastest information sharing social network with its 140 character limit. Making it the most ideal venue for short posts that can be links, personal information and news. In fact, the use of #hashtags is prevalent in being utilized as breaking news search tags.
Last August 26, it was reported that 26 road accidents and panicked parents surged toward schools on the South-Eastern City of Veracruz due to false reports of gunmen attacking several schools and kidnapping children.
It was a certain private school teacher, Gilberto Martinez Vera, who tweeted, “Mу sister-іn-law јυѕt called mе аll upset, thеу јυѕt kidnapped five children frοm thе school.” This was retweeted by a radio presenter, Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola. However, Pagola defended that she just retweeted Martinez. In fact in her statement she protested, “How can they possibly do this to me, for re-tweeting a message? I mean, it’s 140 characters. It’s not logical.”
Now these two, are facing 30 years in prison terms for using twitter in spreading false reports and inciting fear and panic.
This is not a new scenario as Twitter has been used for nefarious reasons such as the Riot in Manchester last month, which was incited by Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe, who were both sentenced a prison term of four years.
Is Social Media Reliable Source of Information?
My original concept of Twitter is, it is a social media platform where people share information, get more followers on twitter for marketing or popularity and basically get friendly, maybe get involved in a harmless argument or two. It has never crossed my mind that using social media like Twitter can cause all this chaos and can be used to mislead people.
With all these disturbing scenarious, questions arose like,is Twitter and other social networking sites reliable source of information? Should they be trusted or doubted?
Because of people’s dependence on these social sites, they are a fair target to scams, hoax, false and misleading informations and other dangerous ways people can think of to create trouble on the internet.
In which case, it is a matter of being scrutinizing on the primary source of the information. Don’t immediately believe what you see in social networking sites. Always verify with websites that have authority over legitimate news. Check on these people and find out where they got the news and ask for a link. Or if it is a breaking news on your local, ask what TV or radio station it was aired.
These are the drawbacks of social media, especially something like twitter, where information is passed on so fast and news are typical content. It pays to be wary and cautious of people, especially those you don’t personally know.
In addition, if you happen to want to get more followers on twitter, make sure that you chose people who are reputable. Who knows what information they might feed you. It is the same thing with following, select those who you think are a reliable and useful source of information. This would steer you away from circumstances such as mentioned above.