To some extent, the past few days were some of the proudest in the history of Twitter.
It was on Twitter that the death of Osama bin Laden was first confirmed reliably, even before it was announced by President Barack Obama.
An IT contractor in Pakistan was then turned into a worldwide twitter expert when he tweeted about the raid on the compound of bin Laden unknowingly.
Then it was announced by Twitter that the time that President Obama spoke was marked by 12.4 million tweets, which was a record.
But in spite of all these, the record for the most number of tweets that were sent at the same time has not been overtaken by the news of the bin Laden’s death.
What could it be? What could be so important as to be held with more significance that the greatest story of the decade? The answer: Japanese New Year’s Eve, which recorded over 6,000 tweets per second.
It looks like the best symbolism for all that is good and bad in microblogging. On the good side, it has become strong quickly, turning into a valued information service on its own and talking about the death of bin Laden even before the news was considered by TV networks.
On the bad side, it can be full of tweets that appear as if they were done by 6,000 New Year’s Eve drunks at times, which can look very degenerate.
However, Twitter has been in existence for only five years and as a whole, it may appear much like a five year old, inclined to go into tantrums, making up things and going over the same brief sentences repeatedly. You can be forgiven if you do not feel comfortable with this chaotic young service that has integrated itself into journalism.
Uncertainty is something that features itself prominently on Twitter at present. It has been turned into a cultural phenomenon but has not seen money coming in just yet. Although its founder, Jack Dorsey, came back to Twitter at a critical time, his focus is not on the company but on his next project, Square.
His online invention has spread both real and false information at the same tempo. As was notably stated by the CEO at Mashable, Pete Cashmore, “I learned that Michael Jackson died on Twitter. I also learned that Justin Bieber died on Twitter.”
After the death of bin Laden, a quote from Martin Luther King Jr stating “he wouldn’t rejoice in the death of single enemy” was extensively retweeted but there was one problem: he never said those words. They were the fabrication of a Facebook user that quickly found their way into Twitter. Both social networks have to contend with excessive disinformation.
And where did the original tweet made before the announcement of President Obama came from? It was from the ex chief of staff of Donald Rumsfeld – a person that can normally be considered as a political rival of the US president.
However, most users of Twitter do not have any idea, nor care, who he was and the statement was not checked out.
As election looms next year, we can anticipate the power of misinformation of Twitter to be used on some campaigns. You have not seen anything yet and it would be best if you could confirm anything that you get from Twitter from another source.
Although bin Laden’s death established the presence of Twitter, it also displayed its flaws. Some twitter expert users recently talked with astonishment that their service of preference could not give them all their news requirements on Sunday night – that they still have to use a reputable news service or the TV to get it.
According to a recent CNN post a CEO who uses several accounts to tweet fanatically had this to say: “Truth be told, Twitter can’t go into depth about a story, and people want depth — the where, how, what, when and the intimate details of the WHY.”
She wrote it in a lengthy discourse of over 140 characters – and put it up on Facebook.
Let me know what you think…