Twitter Trouble

21 Dec

Oh, Twitter. Here I am, writing about you once again. It’s not your fault, really. You’re just so easy to use. And so full of information that we’re willing to automatically believe.

The issue at hand this time concerns Wikileaks and a website that supposedly dropped service for the controversial organization. Or did it? According to a New York Times article, Wikileaks supporters accidentally targeted EasyDNS for cutting off services to Wikileaks when the company they actually wanted was EveryDNS.

The culprit for this case of mistaken identity? Either a blog post or a tweet that originally misidentified the company. Social media users spread the false info, which was ultimately picked up by the Guardian and the  Times itself.

Well someone's been a naughty bird.

It seems that, in the end, EasyDNS wasn’t harmed that much by the confusion. Unlike with Mastercard, Wikileaks supporters didn’t try to shut the site down- they stuck with nasty comments and calls. And, in an interesting twist, EasyDNS is now hosting Wikileaks domain names on special servers.

I thought this was interesting for a couple of reasons. 1) It reiterates my point that Twitter is a powerful tool for journalism. But it can cause a lot of problems when journalists forget that, at times, it’s just a glorified virtual grapevine for gossip.

It’s a problem that I’ve thought about before, and something I think journalists need to think about. Just as you would (hopefully) double check information you got from a source or a website even, you should do the same with social media. It’s so easy to spy a tasty rumor on Twitter and run off to write a story. If it’s true, that’s great. If it’s not, you wind up with egg on your face, so to speak. (Trust me, we’ve been tempted recently at my college newspaper to rely heavily on Twitter. Thankfully, we’ve stepped back a couple of times and taken information with a grain of salt, which is more than I can say for some more “professional” media outlets in the area.)

Tasty.

2) I don’t know if the government – as much as it wants to – will ever be able to shut Wikileaks down. Supporters have already shown what they’re capable of. And the internet is so nebulous – you can’t lock it away in a filing cabinet like the old days. Maybe, instead of focusing so much on punishing someone for something that can never be undone, the government should focus on more closely protecting what secrets it still does have.

And anyway, I don’t necessarily agree with the bullying tactics. As far as my First Amendment knowledge extends, Wikileaks is perfectly within its rights to publish leaked information – it just can’t be going out there and stealing those files itself. Just like the situation at Columbia University (where students were originally advised to not even discuss Wikileaks online) prior restraint does not fly in this country. And we can’t stand for it.

They did not write the Bill of Rights just for their health, people.

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One Response to “Twitter Trouble”

  1. Jessica December 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    🙂

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