Michael Jackson dies: Twitter's good luck

Michael Jackson dies: Twitter's good luck

Summary: Update: title changed to reflect developing news. Michael Jackson has died at aged 50.


Update: title changed to reflect developing news. Michael Jackson has died at aged 50.

Yes, yes and yes. The difference between citizen journalism and professional journalism is relatively simple: one isn't paid to report what they see and hear, and the other is trusted and paid accordingly to report what they see and hear.

Facebook and Twitter, on my end, are rife with comments, statuses and wall posts already stating that Michael Jackson could well be dead, whilst professional sources are not yet claiming such a thing (at time of posting, anyway). Here's the example I see on my screen:

Twitter is absolutely crazed with this news. Just by looking at my main feed of what everyone is talking about, it's awash with rumours, quotes and stories being banded round left, right and center. This makes me consider whether Twitter and similar engines are nothing more than rumour machines.

Two examples I have given before include the Hudson River plane crash and the terror arrests at a UK university. These were reported by citizen journalism before professional journalists got the chance to report. However, once they did, you saw the steady stream of information trickle out as accurate as it was. When you attempt to gain the credibility of some random person posting a thought on a public forum such as Twitter, it opens up the possibility of massive repercussions for others along the process.

Even at the moment, the BBC News channel is claiming that these comments on Twitter are "unconfirmed" and still stating only facts. But for the fact that they are still reporting unconfirmed reports from a public which it doesn't know, just goes to show the spread that social media has. However, the BBC are especially pointing out that at this moment in time, it is important to base news reports on facts alone, by using official sources and those not of Twitter. (23:10 BST).

From my perspective here, is regardless of whether Twitter, Facebook and other citizen-built online communities are right or wrong; only yesterday I would have said, in the wake of the aforementioned examples as well as those in Iran this past week, that Twitter is a brilliant way of keeping up to date with breaking news. Now, I'm not so sure. It doesn't matter whether he has passed or not, the amount of unconfirmed news spread in regards to this current event has put the reputation of social media into disrepute.

Update 1: one of my friends said, "a heart attack didn't kill Michael Jackson, it was Facebook status'".

Update 2: it is looking increasingly likely that Jackson has indeed died. Nevertheless, sad as it may well be, doesn't detract from my point. Statuses and tweets from hours ago have been stating that he had died. According to my benchmark, BBC News in London, stating that he died at around 15:20 PST. If this is the case, then how did people know before hand?

Update 3: my benchmark, BBC News in London, has confirmed it. See above point: still sticks.

Is Was Twitter lying? Are people taking advantage of public online spaces to spread their own gossip to perpetuate a rumour-mill society? Leave a comment and prove me otherwise.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Seems to be true

    Just heard it on CNN. The L.A.Times is claiming to have confirmed it.
  • ...I'm planning to pass on, in bed, with a bottle in one hand...

    ...and a stripper in the other.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
    • Sounds good to me

    • Just make sure the bottle...

      ...contains alcohol and not medicine... :-)

      Wow, what a sad day. First Farrah and now Michael.
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    i think that this is a very surprising thing because i would never think that he would die at this age and from cardiac arrest!
    he had a cardiac arrest at 12:00 and that is the time i got out of scholl so it is a scary moment.
    a lot of people is a hero to him he made the moon walk and he is leaving this world already!
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    i think it is very dramatic that this suddenly happened. i would never think that he would die at 50 and really right now because he is a legend he has a lot of fans and i always think that he never puts any of them down. he had died from cardiac arrest and i don't think that it is good i think it is a scary thing. i heard from my dad from the phone and i started to msn every person i know it is wierd but, one of my friends depends on him he is his idol but, it is too bad that i dont have his phone number.
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    He's dead Jim.
    It will be interesting to see the effect on the net, huge celebrity death bump on EBay I see items with 20+ bids on them.
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    Mickael j'ai passer toute mon enfance ? ?couter tes chanson que j'adore et qui donne beaucoup d'espoir, je suis triste que tu sois partie. tu ?tais un tr?s grand chanteur et danseur.

    Je prirais pour toi

    • Translated (I speak French)

      "Michael - all of my children have listened to your music, and we send our love and hope. I am sorry you have passed - you were a great singer and dancer.

      You are in my prayers,

      • Translated (and I DON'T speak French)

        Seems really to be saying: I passed all my childhood listening your songs that I adore...
        Roque Mocan
        • Who cares about a translation

          "Hey! G*dd*mn funny language, hey buddy the internet is for right thinking red-necked illiberal backwoods english speaking american patriots, so keep that dodgy language fromn OUR internet, we built it! You probably voted for Obama too"

          Just thought I would post that in case any of "them thar good ol' boys" were foaming at the mouth so much they couln't manage to do it themselves, them having seen not just a foreign national posting but in a foreign langauge :-)
      • Why didn't you use google translate? It would have given you better results

        Well, sort off.

        google translate gives me this (edited):

        <i>"<s>Mickael</s> <u>Michael</u> I spend my childhood listening to your song I love and gives much hope, I am sad that you are <s>party</s> <u>gone</u>. you were a very great singer and dancer."</i>

        And unlike you I don't speak French.
        InAction Man
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    I don't know what the point of all your rambling is supposed to be, but in regard to "he died at around 15:20 PST. If this is the case, then how did people know before hand?", the LA TV stations have been reporting that 911 (999 to you) was called at about 1230 Pacific, and Jackson died an hour later. That's a full two hours before 1520. You don't think people at the hospital, whether staff or hangers-on, weren't notifying everybody in the known universe?
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?


    much love
    jazzy mendoza
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    yeh, he's gone, dead, died, passed on, whatever you want to call it. he is no more, and now all the millions of people who had lots to say about what they thought happened with the molestation, his kid being hung over the side of the hotel balcony, are all, ooh aah oh my god i can't believe it, how could this happen snivel cry wail. bunch of hypocrites. the man f'd himself up physically - don't go pretending he didn't. Artistically - no fault with him - excellent performer and artist. Public figures personal lives become public interest domains - it goes with the territory - if you don't want the public to have a say or cast an opinion, be a postman - they're generally not on the news much.
  • Stupid Web Site

    Would you care to point me to a website that
    isn't stupid? ZDnet has personal opinion
    blogs, the news is still almost entirely
    subjective on what/how/when they report,
    Wikipedia is just a collection of random,
    unimportant facts.

    For that matter, what books aren't just stupid?

    Why can't you let people just do what they want
    to do without moaning about it like your own
    life is being ruined? Grow up!
  • RE: Is Michael Jackson dead? Would Twitter lie?

    Unh, yeah they would...I think..Iguess..I..Don't ..Know!
  • Reverse aspect

    Yes social networks gossip and gossip spreads fast.

    However of greater note is that slow response of major
    news to confirm or deny. Rumors of death and major
    injury are quite different matters from personal
    social details like latest lover. You would think that
    a major network would be able to make few phone calls
    and squash totally baseless death rumors within hours.

    For death or major injury rumors that happen to be
    true even a reclusive, secretive person with security
    like Micheal Jackson's would be expected to yield a
    general confirmation within 24 hours.
  • Twitter == End of confidentially

    Twitter type networks are probably notable for the end
    of confidentially/nondisclosure agreements...at least
    for matters that could not be concealed long any way.

    So yeah there is the paradox that Twitter can often
    beat major networks to releasing news by hours or even
    days - yet Twitter is also very subject to viral

    On the other hand in the last few years the standards
    of reliability for major news networks as also
    declined quite a bit. Worse major news is getting bad
    about burying many of its retractions. LOL - its
    entertainment editorial clowns are almost more likely
    to prominently admit mistake in a left handed manner.
  • The better example is Jeff Goldblum

    Among the celebrities that died last week, at least, if you believe Twitter reports and internet searches and, for a moment, wikipedia... is none other than Jeff Goldblum, who was rumored to have fallen to his death on the same day as Michael and Farrah.

    It reminds me of what they say about stock market drops: stock drops have predicted, at up to 2 years in advance, 19 of the last 17 recessions. It's those extra 2 that make people not trust it...

    Even now, if you Google Jeff Goldblum, you're prompted for the related searches "jeff goldblum dies" and "did jeff goldblum die" E! Online even had a cute article "the Dead can Twitter"