False tweets provide lessons for peace journalists
I've been thinking a lot about the rumours/falsehoods spread by Twitter during Sandy. Two great pieces caught my eye:
This resonates, or should resonate, with peace journalists since one of our most important functions is to debunk rumors. These Twitter rumors during Sandy were irritating, yes, but this time weren't a matter of life or death. But what if Twitter-published lies somehow caused first responders to waste their time responding to a non-existent crisis?
In countries where ethnic and religious differences often flare into violence, Twitter's potential for mischief rises exponentially. It's not a stretch to imagine a false tweet igniting inter-ethnic violence in many parts of the world.
Given Twitter's potential destructive power, the question arises about if government officials in the U.S. and elsewhere would ever be justified in either censoring tweets or punishing lying tweeters. This is a question my students and I have been chewing on much of the week.
Follow me on Twitter @PeaceJourn and order my book about my adventures teaching peace journalism in Uganda at http://professorkomagum.blogspot.com .