If you read the headline “Reporters put Twitter, Facebook, to ‘Big Brother’ test,” what would you assume:
- Intrepid journalists will show just how much the Internet knows about individuals by scouring those social media sites for personal details about strangers and assembling a doubleplusthorough profile on the activities and personality of people they’ve never met—people who believe they are safe and “private” online, OR
- Reporters will be going on a paid vacation in a French villa with only Twitter and Facebook as their news sources.
I suppose both stories have some potential, but I’m a bit disappointed that it’s B—especially since I have to assume that “Big Brother” in that headline is a reference to that reality show where people are forced to live together in a house with a bunch of cameras. (No, not The Real World. No, not Road Rules. Please focus.) Ungood to forget where that title actually comes from.
But yes, it’s five reporters from around the world who’ll be forced to spend five. whole. days! using only Twitter and Facebook as their news sources—no broadcasts, no papers, no other websites, and I suppose that they won’t be allowed to talk to loved ones about the news, either, though they will have mobile phones (without the Internet).
Facebook and especially Twitter have gained a reputation as bastions of citizen journalism, breaking stories well ahead of the mainstream news. One of the participants in this experiment, France Inter’s Nour-Eddine Zidane, noted that he’d found out about the death of a senior French politician on Twitter.
But there are drawbacks as well. Zidane pointed to tweets about a computer meltdown in France’s post offices that was a hoax.
And, now that they’ve announced the dates of confinement—beginning Feb 1—we can all try to put out as much false news as possible, right?
Seriously, though, I’m interested to see how good their coverage is from only those two news sources. The reporters will be making daily radio broadcasts about their stories as well as in a communal blog. Which, I suppose they’ll be allowed to visit .
What do you think? Will their stories be mostly true or false? Will they break stories that other news outlets don’t know about yet, or will they end up behind the curve, reporting on Twitter reactions to major news stories already covered?