The myth of Twitter’s power to self-correct

Last August, lions and tigers were released from the London Zoo and let free to roam the posh Primrose Hill district. Or at least, this is how it might have seemed if you were following that summer’s London riots via Twitter, as a number of high-profile users on the social network site re-tweeted news to that effect. In fact, as the British newspaper The Guardian later showed, the story about escaped animals was only one of the subsequently debunked claims about sensational happenings during the riot that circulated in the Twitterverse that summer.

Gigaom

Last August, lions and tigers were released from the London Zoo and let free to roam the posh Primrose Hill district. Or at least, this is how it might have seemed if you were following that summer’s London riots via Twitter, as a number of high-profile users on the social network site re-tweeted news to that effect. In fact, as the British newspaper The Guardian later showed, the story about escaped animals was only one of the subsequently debunked claims about sensational happenings during the riot that circulated in the Twitterverse that summer.

In the weeks following Hurricane Sandy, a similar story has emerged. In his Nov. 4 New York Times column “Twitter’s Uneasy Role Guarding the Truth,” Nick Bilton praised Twitter for its “self-correcting mechanism” that allowed users to quickly debunk falsehoods circulating in the aftermath of the storm. It didn’t take long, he observed, for users to identify a…

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