David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

More Reasons to Clean Up Tweets

Stock plunge another reminder of social media’s power – and the need for fact-checking

  • April 24, 2013

Yesterday saw the most extreme example possible of why rapid crowdsourced corrections of Tweets and other social media (see “Preventing Misinformation From Spreading Through Social Media”) are critically needed– an issue that came to the fore last week as misinformation spread about the Boston bombings.

Yesterday, the Dow plunged about 150 points and then recovered after an Associated Press Twitter account was hacked, with the hackers then posting a false report that the White House had been bombed and President Obama injured.

A little back-of-envelope math: with the total market capitalization of U.S. companies in the ballpark of $18 trillion, yesterday’s event combined with hair-trigger trading algorithms erased $180 billion in value, and the AP’s correction restored it within seven minutes.  

All from one piece of Tweeted misinformation.  Crowdsourcing, described in the piece I wrote yesterday, would probably never be able to act faster than the AP did in getting the truth out.  But the situation is just plain scary.

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