Breaking news via Twitter is bad form according to Reuters. In a newly revised version of its social media policy, the site urges journalists to refrain from “tweeting” news events as they happen and encourages professionals to post information to the wire first. Reuters also strongly suggest proofreading “tweets” and getting a manager’s approval on anything newsworthy before broadcasting it to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
In the wake of natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, “tweeting” is the preferred method of contact for members of the media because of limited internet connectivity and downed phone lines. Interfaces on cell phones and laptops make it possible to use social media platforms wirelessly in remote parts of the world.
During the 2009 Iranian Election, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a number of personal and professional blogs served as a valuable resource for protesters looking to gather information and collaborate with others in regards to the event’s most pressing issues. Posting photographs and streaming videos in real time helped the citizens of Iran communicate with the world without the assistance of the mainstream media who were ousted by the country’s government officials, arrested, and prevented from covering the event.
“Tweeting” during tragedies like the accidental drowning death of two-year-old Bryson Ross has caused quite a stir. Outraged citizens couldn’t understand the role that Twitter played in military mom Shellie Ross’ life as she awaited word from the doctors who were trying to save her young son. Reality TV star Tila Tequila also received backlash when she announced the death of her fiancée, Johnson and Johnson heiress Casey Johnson, in a “tweet”.
Instantaneous messaging can be both a blessing and a curse. Pro golfer John Daly, unhappy with the direction that a Florida newspaper took to describe his PGA disciplinary file, “tweeted” that the writer was a jerk and posted the man’s cell phone number in an attempt to “FLOOD his line”.
Angie Jackson from Tampa gave play-by-play details via Twitter after taking RU-486, also known as the abortion pill. Suggesting that it was not done for publicity, the mother of one touched a sore spot with her controversial “tweets”.
On a positive note, Twitter is the equivalent of social media gold when it comes to fundraising and increasing awareness. For example, Tweets for a Cause consists of a group of dedicated social media users who send out consistent “tweets” on the first Tuesday of each month in support of a pre-determined local charity. Like-minded groups have seen measurable success after “tweeting” as demonstrated by their fundraising events, charity auctions, and benefit dinners which goes to show everyone that Twitter isn’t all that bad.