Louisiana State University v. Twitter

They’ve killed people, ruined marriages, tried to start wars, and successfully started revolutions. Who are these ruthless criminals? Of course, the people of Twitter. Twitter has long been a place where vicious rumors spread like wild fire as “cable news correspondents” break the news to their 150 followers. This past weekend, college football fell victim to the felons of the Twittershpere.

The story broke when a broadcast journalism student from Western Kentucky shared 136 characters: “There are rumors that LSU head football coach Les Miles will step down on Monday after allegedly having an affair with a student. Hmm…” What happened after was wildfire. The students twitter followers increased from 250 to 30,000 almost instantly and Les Miles became a nationwide trending topic and was found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Luckily for Les and the LSU faithful, true journalism was hard at work trying to corroborate the story. And by the wee hours of the morning, after several cautionary cocktails, the news was confirmed as a rumor. It was a mistrial. This brings us back to a theme in social that is becoming all too familiar even to the recreational user. If you want the news first, Twitter is unmatched. If you want the news correct, well that’s a completely different ball game.

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3 Responses to Louisiana State University v. Twitter

  1. hollyzeller says:

    I had no idea that this had happened, yet am not surprised in the slightest. You are very correct in saying that if you want to be the first to hear something, Twitter is your go-to place, but you really must keep in mind the credibility of what you are reading. This is a prime example of the viral nature of social media and the potentially harmful effects it can have on a person and their personal brand online. Great post Sean!

  2. Justin Daniels says:

    Do you believe Twitter does enough in the crisis development department? Whether the tweet was truthful or not, do you believe Twitter should be more active when it comes to removing tweets that could damage people’s reputations?

    • I will preface my answer to this question by saying that I know little about Twitter’s internal structure or the staff they have to manage such situations. In short, yes. I think they should be doing more to monitor these types of tweets. This is assuming they are doing nothing. However, I think it should be a sort of fact checker role and not a an account that deletes these posts. While some of these posts have ill intent, they are in fact expressions of people’s opinions and what I believe to be protected speech. Twitter should do what everyone should be doing on twitter: Helping to verify that information is correct before sending it on to our followers and the world.

      On a side note: There are a ridiculous amount of tweets sent every second/minute/hour etc. So monitoring this type of behavior is increasingly difficult. But like I said their purpose should be to help join in an effort to send verified information and not as some Twitter police force.

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