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Sandy and those "reports" on social media

We all know that newspapers, and traditional media, is in trouble.....but does that mean, correspondingly, that we can trust what we read on so-called alternative "news" reports via social media?   A case in point, the "reporting" of "news" surrounding cyclone Sandy.    Asher Wolf in "Social Media Versus The Hurricane" on NewMatilda explores the issue.

"Why do people implicitly trust social media reports when often they haven't been verified? Hurricane Sandy is a great example of how social media can crowdsource both accurate reports and lies, writes Asher Wolf

Reporting and analysing critical incidents such as Hurricane Sandy using Twitter presents a particular challenge: filtering high volumes of information, and getting information out not only quickly but accurately.

As BuzzFeed’s Deputy Tech Editor John Herrman points out:

"There was no shark in Brigantine, and certainly no beached seal in Manhattan. The NYSE trading floor did not flood, and the 10 or more Con Edison workers trapped at a damaged plant turned out not to exist."


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"The claims appearing on Twitter during Hurricane Sandy beggared belief and
demanded fact-checking — at least, for all of us who seek accuracy in news reporting.

Twitter in itself is not a truth machine — it is awash with crummy claims and false data. But the
platform is a goldmine of open source information, waiting to be vetted and verified.

We know traditional media outlets are increasingly relying on social media. Checking ascertainable details from online sources takes time and commitment. "Horse-race" journalism is simply dangerous during critical incidents: sharing bad information may have potentially perilous consequences, as social media users attempt to gather vital information to respond to emergencies."

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