Crazy few days, right? Like many news junkies I’ve been riveted by Hurricane Sandy.
When I think about how I’ve read my news over the last few days, it was 95% social media, primarily Twitter. Particularly last night. I know that Twitter has had its “moment” several times this year. The Social Olympics. The presidential debates with its record-breaking number of tweets. But last night — especially for a newsie and social media junkie — was yet another truly amazing Twitter moment. Close to 5 million tweets with the word Sandy in them went out yesterday. Wow. It was incredible following the posts of journalists – many of whom were in NYC without power – using Twitter to get out the news. Even more compelling were the pictures (at least the real ones) coming from the public. The pleas for help — like this one from a woman trying to find a generator for a friend on a ventilator — that went answered. The useful play-by-plays of power going out in several hospitals, cranes collapsing, walls falling down. If you were paying close attention to Twitter, you saw it there first.
There were also many pitfalls. In the rush to get out information, misinformation ran rampant at some points. Among the biggest whoops moments: The NYSE is under three-feet of water. Nope. It was wrong. So was the report from Reuters about 19 workers at a power plant being trapped. Everyone’s seen the fake Sandy photos. There were a lot of them. Important note: While most of this misinformation originated from Twitter, it was very quickly corrected by Twitter. You have to keep paying attention. UPDATE: Buzzfeed “unmasked” the source of some of the most egregious Sandy information, incl. the NYSE rumour.