Reflecting on the consequences of the Associated Press Twitter account hacking , it occurs to me that there’s still a widespread lack of understanding of the nature of social media among some institutions. And it’s costly.
Even a passing observer of the twittersphere will be aware of the speed at which events are reported on Twitter. Take the Hudson River air crash as an example . Note that the story broke with a photograph taken by a passenger on a nearby ferry on his mobile phone and that the fake message on AP’s hacked account was only text. Now ask yourself how many people are milling in or around the White House on an average day and how many of those are likely to have a smartphone and a link to a social media channel. In this day and age, the odds are pretty high.
If (god forbid) an explosion did go off at the White House, there would be multiple messages with photos and video flying around the twittersphere within moments. I won’t add a link to the disturbing scenes captured in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings but I think I’ve made my point.
A bomb has gone off at the White House? Go on Twitter and search the hashtag #whitehouse or #obama or #bomb or anything similar. Use your common sense. If there’s tumbleweed blowing across the desert and the sound of crickets, the chances are, it’s a hoax.
Let’s not blame social media or hackers for the market crash. It was an institutional failure of common sense and ironically, social media had the answer all along.