Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
I’ve had a great influx of hits on my blog for a Friday night because of this post.
This all started around eight thirty, when one of the people I follow retweeted a tweet that a bomb had gone off on Tottenham Court Road. I already had Sky News on but because there was nothing, I put BBC News on another computer in the house to see if one of them broke the story first. A quick Twitter search for “Tottenham Court Road” produced about five different images. I linked to two of these photographs in a tweet, reiterating the original report I had heard that it was a “bomb.”
Of course it was that tweet – mentioning the word ‘bomb’ and the two photographs – that got retweeted to hell. Had this have been an actual bomb, this would have been a brilliant example of Twitter leading by the crowd, and posting a story before the media had gotten ahold of it.
As all further information has pointed (including a post on the London Traffic report site) it was only a taxi that caught fire. While the cause of this taxi fire is still unknown, the greater interest was in it being a bomb. It is no surprise that a social network such as Twitter erupted when there was the possibility of a bomb, yet Twitter needs its sceptics to be able to quell such rumours as they arise.
Had the taxi been the target of a terrorist bomb, Twitter would have worked to the best of its news reporting ability – the mainstream media was still reporting about Brooks and the NoTW. As it happens, we experienced the jumping-to-conclusions side of Twitter that happens in equal measure (and I accept my irresponsibility in including the word ‘bomb’ in that original tweet).
With all this said and done, despite the fact that all evidence points towards the fact there was no bomb, Twitter will forever be a great thing in this respect. Prior to Twitter, the five or six photographs that emerged clearly showing the taxi on fire would have been confined to those near the events.
In light of recent events we are entering, what I imagine will be, a long debate about the media (of all variety)’s responsibility in every respect; I take the position that it is better we have a fuller and more transparent range of reporting, even if it means some of it turns out to be false.
Tonight the scare of a bomb spread across Twitter pretty quickly but I would rather it have spread and turned out to be false, than not known at all.