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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Truth Factor

Frank James writes

[W]ho can tell what's reliable and what isn't on Twitter? It's impossible to know even if what you're reading was actually written by people in Tehran or elsewhere in Iran, especially since there's a movement for as many people in the Twittersphere to use the Iranian capital as their location a là "I'm Spartacus" to make it harder for Iranian censors to stop tweets that are actually from Iran.

The unintended consequence of that move was to make it even harder for the non-Iranian censors to figure out what's really from Iran and what isn't. For instance, how do we know that Gabhan is really in Tehran and not, say, spoofing from Johannesburg?

And even if he's in Iran, how do we know his information is credible? It's even possible that some of the tweets are coming from Iranian authorities or foreign intelligence agencies issuing disinformation.

One function of mainstream media journalism is to disseminate information we've determined to be reliable. It's not easy to do and we journalists make mistakes in vetting "facts," witness much of the important reportage leading to the Iraq War. We're human.

But the reliance on Twitter and Facebook is essentially throwing the doors open to everything and anything.

link: National Public Radio


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