I’ve long worried about and many of us contend with stomping out false or incorrect information during emergency incidents. Twitter, in particular, poses unique challenges when it comes to the art of retweeting.
Here’s one example from tonight that could represent a microcosm of the issue.
Dangerous storms are en route to the National Capital Region (DC, VA and MD), though not anticipated for many hours. At 9:55 p.m., all’s quiet right now with not much in nearby sight, but while monitoring some feeds, I noticed this retweet by two people within the last 45 minutes:
A few issues:
a.) Note the date and time of the original tweet: June 10 at 7:37 p.m. — two days ago.
b.) There’s no flood warning in effect.
c.) Area radar stands quiet right now.
d.) The confusing reference to @capitalweather, The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. @capitalweather never tweeted this information, so it’s not clear why @breakingstorm included @capitalweather.
In today’s age of “nano news,” with thanks to Gerald Baron for that great phrase, relatively minor examples like this need a holistic solution. Two-day old info is obviously not true and storms are not minutes away. It’s impossible to “train” casual Twitter users to manually add a date and timestamp, so those of us in the response business must be diligent to timestamp our info when appropriate so our own tweets are not errantly retweeted days later. Twitter should think about a different way to provide timestamps, too.
During an emergency, it could make a significant difference. Tweet and retweet with care.