Last month, Washington Post sportswriter Mike Wise was given a 30-day suspension after he falsely posted on his Twitter account that the National Football League would reduce Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension to five games.
Wise later tweeted that he put out the fake information “to test the accuracy of social media reporting.” The initial tweet was picked up by media outlets, leading to all sorts of problems for Wise, and raising an important question: How trustworthy is information posted on the Internet?
As part of its 2010 Digital Future Study, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School asked participants for their thoughts about what they read online. Sixty-one percent of users said that no more than half of the information found online is reliable.
The accuracy and authenticity of information raises interesting questions for us involved in public relations where we are often tasked with helping to shape content. PR Week noted in a recent article that public relations pros need to be familiar with their clients’ process for substantiating and vetting information before even thinking about posting something online as risks are elevated when process is absent.
There’s an old adage in journalism that goes something like this: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” A truism for those of us responsible for content generation in any form.
Written by: Chuck Dianis