Monitoring a friend’s Facebook wall for an update about her Discovery employee husband, watching for a specific Twitter handle to know another friend had been accounted for, and constantly reading the #discovery hashtag on my Tweetdeck for provided much more up to date information than any news channel could. While some of the news that was being shared via Twitter may not have been as reliable as what was being reported by the networks, social media provides instantaneous news in the form of links to updates by local news outlets and photos by those at the scene thanks to Twitpic.
I know that the way that I obtain my news now is far different than I did ten years ago. When September 11 occurred, I was glued to the television in our office listening to news reports about the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. News channels doing on the ground reporting couldn’t keep update their web pages fast enough and social media didn’t yet exist to have hashtags to follow, reports from Joe Citizen who just happened to be on the scene, or camera phone pictures that were shared with the masses.
Even a year later most of the information I read about the DC sniper attacks came from The Washington Post or came via a school system-wide email about schools that had to lock down due to being in close proximity to the most recent shooting.
Print journalism and true investigative reporting still have a place in this technology filled world. I still look forward to getting my Washington Post on a daily basis and finding the local paper in my driveway every Wednesday but the prevalence of smartphones and social networking applications provides everyone with the opportunity to do some live reporting if they so choose.
I can only hope that these tools will be used responsibly. Just as print journalists do, we can use apps to report facts to the masses, anxiously awaiting updates. They shouldn’t be used to slander, sensationalize, hijack hashtags, or create fake Twitter accounts.
One of the more chilling tweets was a link to a Twitpic of the gunman running through the Discovery channel courtyard. While this image might have caused terror, it also could have assisted authorities in identifying the suspect due to constant retweeting.
On the other hand, one of the more disturbing tweets I saw go by on the #discovery stream was from the @GunmanLee account. Obviously fake, someone had taken the Discovery gunman’s name posthumously and started tweeting parts of his manifesto to others. (Please don’t look at the fake account. It’s really disgusting. You’re welcome.)
Other use of the #discovery hashtag included rants about Shark Week being too short that clogged up the stream that followers had been using as a news source. Often times trending hashtags will get picked up and hijacked. That’s just wrong.
Using social networking for information sharing and news reporting can serve a real purpose in times of crisis if used responsibly by everyone involved.
How will you use social networking for good?
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama