Since when does a 140 character post on a social networking site count as a trustworthy source of information for a legitimate news publication? Not to mention the anonymity afforded by social media accounts. Where is the incentive to post completely accurate information?
I understand social media is the new wave of communication, but there needs to be guidelines for how information can and should be used in the news media. My colleague Dan Ward recently wrote about Dow Jones’ updated guidelines for ethical uses of social media networks like Twitter. Bet they never dreamed guidelines for information farmed off of Twitter would be needed.
Case in point: Orlando Sentinel.com writer Susan Jacobson wrote a brief account of a bomb scare in a Port Canaveral cruise terminal. The report was informative and seemingly credible – until the last sentence.
“A man touring the Wonder sent a Twitter update stating that roads to the terminal were closed during the scare, but that could not be confirmed.”
As close as Port Canaveral is to the Kennedy Space Center, it makes me wonder whether the Twitterer was indeed a man aboard The Disney Wonder or if, in fact, it was astronaut Mike Massimino aboard the space shuttle Atlantis trying to fulfill his responsibilities as a citizen journalist, but afraid he might be outed for using a surrogate to hit the send button.