On The Drill Down on Friday, Andy, Mu, Reg and Lid had a great discussion about the speed with which the twitterspere can bring news to the world, often breaking stories before even the biggest mainstream news outlets could.
Joining the conversation was guest Daniel Honigman, Social Media Strategy Coordinator, Tribune Interactive who is the brains behind Colonel Tribune…the voice of the Tribune in social media.
The conversation began to make me wonder, how you handle the inevitable inaccuracies that pretty much necessarily come with twitter’s time-warp speed, especially when you’re the voice of a major, mainstream media outlet.
So, I asked, and, his answer was essentially that they try to correct it pretty quickly, if something wasn’t right.
But, here’s where it gets really squirrely.
What happens when the content of the original tweet was so sensitive that it literally moved markets or even the price of a single stock? A correction issued by tweet, even seconds later, might still not be enough to reverse the economic impact.
For example, let’s say someone who tweets/blogs about the markets with a substantial following or mainstream news creds decides to tweet “just heard Jobs isn’t keynoting Macworld.”
That then gets retweeted by 10% of that person’s followers and so on and so on. So, within 60 seconds, hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions get the “news.” And, they start to spread it beyond the twittersphere into the blogosphere, while simultaneously placing sell orders on Apple stock.
This creates a ripple effect and people begin to sell on the rumor, making the stock drop.
Ten minutes later, once the tweet rumor hits mainstream blogs and media, those with the contacts and resources begin to make calls. With some quick vetting, they discover and announce there was no truth to the original tweet. And, a correction in stock price follows, but what took seconds to drop takes a few weeks to rise. And, for those who sold near the false bottom and stayed out, they’ve just taken a financial hit.
Which all begs the question, is there some fuzzy line where those of us in the high-speed social media communication world take on an implied responsibility to vet before tweeting?
Trust me, as a “heavy user,” that’s certainly not my preference.
But as a former SEC enforcement attorney (waaaay former), it’s amazing how many windows I see to tap social media for the purposes of market manipulation.
The example I just shared above wasn’t about intentionally manipulating the markets. But…it could have been.
And, that scares me a bit. Just something I’m thinking about as twitter, in particular, starts to mature a bit and scream it’s way into the mainstream consciousness.
Curious, what do you think?
Jonathan Fields is the author of Career Renegade: How To Make A Great Living Doing What You Love. He blogs at CareerRenegade.com and JonathanFields.com