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This is indeed the times of technology, but as we find out from this incident, and not only this, but in many other times and forms, before and after this event, we see the abusive tendency that we humans have... we learn from history that we do not learn from history...

The 24-hour news cycle is rapidly morphing into the 24-second news cycle.

It took less than half time for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 150 points and erase $136 billion in market value after a Twitter hoax on April 23 claimed United States President Obama was injured in an explosion at the White House.

“It was nine, 10, 11 seconds and it was fast and then the question was ‘Why?’” Andrew Frankel, co-president of the brokerage firm Stuart Frankel & Company, told the Times.

He said traders realized the news alert – made after an account at the news cooperative The Associated Press was taken over by Syrian hackers – was false since the television screens showing other business programs had nothing about an explosion.

“You look at how quickly that happened and now everyone wants to release corporate earnings on Twitter,” Mr. Frankel said. “The concerns is ‘How do you know what’s right and what’s not? How do you know what’s hacked and what isn’t?’”

The pitfalls of social media’s news reporting are not just limited to the perceived unreliability of Twitter, with its strict 140-character limit. Reddit, the hugely popular news and entertainment site, found its foray into the chaos surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing to be a humbling experience.

Redditors, as site members are known, turned into amateur sleuths and ended up wrongly identifying several people as possible suspects, The Times reported. Reddit slipped from a reliable place for crowd sourced information to a purveyor of false accusations and found itself at the center of the debate about the responsibilities of digital media, according to the Times.

Erik Martin, the site’s general manager, posted an apology on April 22, saying, “Activity on Reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties. The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened.”

The urge to break news and be first on a big story is an occupational hazard that has long plagued media outlets of every variety.

In the Boston bombing case, Reddit was joined by the venerable television news network CNN in making false reports, most noticeably when a CNN reported declared on the air that an arrest had been made, when in fact the Chechen brothers who were the suspects were still at large. Others outlets, including The New York Post, Fox News, The Boston Globe, and the Associated Press, quickly repeated the claim.

When the surviving brother was in custody after a two-day manhunt, President Obama went on live television to address the nation, and reminded news organizations what their jobs were.

“In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information,” the president said. “But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right. That’s why we have investigations. That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.”


Taken from My Paper, Saturday, May 4, 2013


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