I found out Kim Jong-Un was alive and well through ‘negative-news.’ I didn’t read about his assassination on any major news sources so I concluded he had not, in fact, been assassinated. I did not, however, see any tweets, reddit posts or news stories stating outright that all the rumors were just that.
It’s not the job of the media to report all rumors that have been debunked. However, I had expected to see something on Twitter that explicitly exposed the story that came out of Weibo as a rumor. It seems likelythose Tweets were sent, but they certainly didn’t catch fire like the original story.
I wondered originally why Twitter (and social media in general) required verification of events by traditional media outlets. The Law of Incorrect Tweets gives me a clue: while Twitter is great spreading the word quickly, it does not do a good job at correcting mistakes. Once a Tweet is out, it can’t be redacted. Even if the original source makes a good effort to correct their mistake, it doesn’t guarantee that the correct information will spread.
Although audiences at large know better than to trust everything they read on the Internet (I hope), that mistrust is compounded when there is no system to ensure misinformation is corrected. This creates a problem for readers who want to rely on Twitter and social media alone for their news, they have no way to verify that what they’re reading is true.
Ultimately, this is not a problem that Twitter can or should deal with, rather, content creators need to be more careful about what they tweet. In the story I linked above, Lotan gives us an excellent example of how to circumvent the problem of non-existent corrections. Content creators who take matters into their own hands to ensure the truthiness the outset are able to build trust with their readers on an individual level. Even if that reliability does not apply to an entire network, it gives readers a place to start.