Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category


Instant Articles: A revolution in journalism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Today, Facebook is launching its Instant Articles initiative, where news organizations will be hosting content on the social network’s site.

The official confirmation comes in a blog post from Facebook after previous reports, most notably in March from the New York Times, prompting rampant speculation as to what role Facebook would have, and how it would exactly affect the relationship it had with publishers.

There are nine publishers taking part, including the Times, BuzzFeed and the BBC. The feature is to start on Facebook’s iPhone platform, but expand in the coming months, the social network said, noting more publishers would also be involved in due course. Additionally, publishers are to take the revenue generated from advertisements in that content. Facebook says it allows publishers to provide a better experience for readers.

In that blog post, Mark Thompson, the chairman of The New York Times Company, said the move was significant because of the Times’ audience on the platform.

“The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook,” Thompson said. “We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement.”

With the release of this initiative, this opens a new chapter in social media journalism, especially Facebook’s role, and will be a revolution in the relationship between the consumer and the news organization.

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

While it is early and the number of partners are limited, the move by Facebook, and indeed speculation of acquisitions and experiments by other social network sites, notably Twitter’s rumored acquisition of Circa, and Snapchat’s decision to hire Peter Hamby as head of news which is likely to affect its Discover feature, this will lead to a change in the thinking of journalism in the social media age.

Facebook has taken the bold step by becoming more than just a way to curate discussion on the news. It has become the news.

Today’s launch of Instant Articles will have significant implications on journalists working on the web. The relationship between social media and editorial content has changed, and while whether if it is positive or negative remains for the moment uncertain, it will change not just how we think about a story, but how we can engage with our audiences.

This is an important time for journalists near and far to consider this initiative and the future of their role in social media journalism, not just on Facebook, but on other platforms, for more moves like this may be on the horizon. We owe it to not just our colleagues in the profession, but ultimately our audience, to be ready for what is ahead, whether you write for a newspaper, produce for TV or radio or for online.

Facebook has shown us what is ahead in social media journalism, and perhaps for the industry as a whole. It is up to us to how we respond to it.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Could Twitter be more than a curator?

Twitter is said to be considering buying the mobile app Circa, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be considering buying the mobile app Circa, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is known by many journalists to be a curator for information, allowing a new way to inform and engage audiences on various subjects. But a recent report may suggest Twitter may be going beyond its curating role.

A report from the Business Insider web site suggests that Twitter is considering acquiring the mobile app Circa. Sources mentioned in the report tell the site that no deal has been reached, and is a route the social network is considering.

The founder of Circa, Matt Galligan, told the site that he had been considering numerous options, but declined to discuss options with Twitter. Twitter, for its part, did not discuss any conversations with Business Insider.

“We didn’t put Circa up for sale,” Galligan said. “We’ve got a term sheet for a Series A on the table, but after evaluating all the inbound interest from potential acquiring parties, we decided we wanted to give more attention to those conversations.”

While nothing formal is in place, this raises an interesting question onto the role Twitter has in the newsroom, and if perhaps the social network would be going beyond a curatorial role, and enter an editorial production role.

Facebook is considering an editorial move, with the social network being the host for news and articles from various publishers. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Facebook is considering letting publishers keep all of the revenue from certain advertisements, as the Instant Articles initiative is said to debut this month.

The rumors surrounding Twitter’s possible Circa acquisition may perhaps be considered a response to Facebook’s move, and creating a new way to tackle distribution and the role of content in the social age. Whether it comes to fruition is uncertain, but it may lead to how more social networks think about their relationships with newsrooms, and more widely, how journalists view the relationship between not just social media and audience engagement, but social media and the editorial process.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Can social journalism thrive on Snapchat?

As Snapchat hires its first Head of News, there are questions as to whether it can revolutionize social media journalism. (Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

As Snapchat hires its first Head of News, there are questions as to whether it can revolutionize social media journalism. (Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

Social media has changed the course and direction for engaging audiences, especially younger audiences. Instagram is at the core of that, with a recent study from the Pew Research Institute saying 53 percent of 18-29 year olds use the photo sharing app, while 49 percent of users use it daily. It has also become a way for many journalists to tell stories, including NPR’s White House correspondent Tamara Keith, who was featured on this blog in January.

But not far behind Instagram in the context of social media for younger audiences is Snapchat, and this week it made a major move toward it becoming a new journalism hub. The social network, based in Los Angeles, announced that CNN political correspondent Peter Hamby would be departing the network to join Snapchat as its Head of News. CNN is a partner with Snapchat through its Discover feature.

In an interview with the On Media blog at Politico, Hamby said Snapchat had potential when it came to news.

“Snapchat is one of the most exciting young companies in the world,” Hamby said. “They have a big and growing audience, and we’ve seen Discover is a huge success. Their live stories around big events, around places both here and abroad, the potential to take users to new places — we can see some application of that with news.”

Hamby declined to discuss any specifics of his new role with Politico, but added that he would be with CNN as a contributor through its coverage of the 2016 elections. Neither CNN nor Snapchat did not respond to Net Worked’s requests for comment for this piece. Other partners through the Discover feature include Vice, ESPN, Yahoo and People Magazine.

The news of Snapchat’s acquisition of Hamby comes as a report from the web site The Information said that traffic for Discover had been down 50 percent since its launch in January.

While Snapchat has thus far shown itself to be influential when it comes to social media and younger audiences, it is still early days as to whether it can truly be in the running as a platform for social journalism, though it does have potential to change how younger audiences consume journalism, especially with key events including the lead up to the elections.

The days and weeks ahead will certainly be a test for the social network, but there are also some lingering questions, not just on content, but also engagement, considering the drop in traffic with Discover. Can it compete with Instagram, Twitter and other networks to be one of the top social providers for journalism in a demographic whose media habits are in a constant state of flux? Would newsrooms adopt Snapchat as part of the overall social strategy? Or will it be an outsider on social media, intended solely for its colorful messaging and communication techniques?

The ball is now in Snapchat’s court, with many wondering what its next move will be.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Teaching social media ethics must be a priority

Ethics Week is the perfect time to remember journalism ethics, especially social media. (Photo: SPJ)

Ethics Week is the perfect time to remember journalism ethics, especially social media.
(Photo: SPJ)

This week is the SPJ’s annual Ethics Week, a celebration of, and a time to examine deeper, the Code of Ethics and its primary values – to seek truth, report it, minimize harm, be accountable and transparent, and act independent.

With the rise of new technologies and platforms shaping this industry, it is important to remember the ethics and principles of journalism and adapt them with modern technology. My SPJ colleague, Lynn Walsh, has written a blog post over on the Code Words blog on ethics in the internet age, especially on social media, which should be a must read this week for every journalist practicing in the digital age, student or professional.

As new technologies change how we think about journalism and how we approach it, it is essential that ethics must be considered. This is especially true with social media ethics, from compiling information to its verification, irrespective of platform, as it becomes a larger part of most news organizations’ multi-platform operations, be it a newspaper, television or radio station, or web site.

This learning, especially now, should be made essential by every news organization, and it must be emphasized to every student at every university that teaches journalism. The more knowledge that can be contributed into how social media can work in a journalistic context, and how it can be used responsibly, the better we will be as journalists, and the better this industry will be in the future.

Social media is part of the norm for consuming news. Its ethics must be part of the norm for every practicing journalist. We owe it not just to our profession, but to our audience, and there is no better time to make that happen than right now.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Verify, verify, verify, especially on social media

The Journalism School at New York's Columbia University issued a report April 5 regarding inaccuracies in a Rolling Stone story. (Photo - mathewingram/Flickr under CC)

The Journalism School at New York’s Columbia University issued a report April 5 regarding inaccuracies in a Rolling Stone story. (Photo – mathewingram/Flickr under CC)

One of the biggest talking points in the journalism world at this writing is the just released report from the Columbia Journalism School on the story in Rolling Stone magazine regarding rape at the University of Virginia.

The report, which notes failures that could have been avoided, also has implications for those working in social media and digital journalism.

Indeed, while social media has changed not only how news is consumed, but also how it can be reported, the big point still remains, to verify, verify, verify.

My SPJ colleague, Andrew Seaman, the chairman of the Ethics Committee, reached by email, says verification is crucial irrespective of platform.

“It’s incredibly important to recognize that verification and attribution is as important as it is for journalists reporting for print and broadcast media,” Seaman said. “The Society’s Code of Ethics is written with the understanding that all journalism – no matter where it occurs – is journalism. In all cases, speed nor format excuses inaccuracy. Currently, journalists are fortunate to have social media and other easily available sources to corroborate or verify stories. The trick is for journalists to use these avenues as tool – not excuses.”

Indeed, as Carole McNall, an SPJ Digital member and Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University in New York state, in a note on the social networking site Twitter, indicates, Rolling Stone should do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“[Rolling Stone]’s apparent belief that they need to change nothing guarantees it’ll happen again,” McNall said.

For journalists, social media has allowed a new experience in how we consume and report the news, and this report should be a reminder of the basic principles of getting the facts and putting an ethical story together, whether you’re with a magazine, a broadcaster, an online publication or at a newspaper. When reporting on social media, ensure everything is accurate. Take time to verify sources and material. If you’re quoting a report from social, especially Twitter, verify it before running with it.

Social media can be essential, but used together with other reporting tools can help make a story great. Running with the facts just because they are posted on there doesn’t mean it is automatically true, so take time to verify everything before your deadline. Not only will verification of facts make you be a better journalist for it, it will help your organization grow in trust, especially in the digital world.

Remember, it is better to be right and be correct, than being first than being incorrect, and a great story has verified fact. Verify, verify, verify.

For the record, the Society of Professional Journalists issued a statement independent of this blog post, which you can read here, and you can read wider insight from Seaman on the report, posted on the SPJ Ethics blog here.

If you’re a digital journalist, I’d love to know what you think of this report and the affect on social media and other digital tools in journalism. Feel free to drop me an email or send me a tweet. I look forward to reading your feedback.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Facebook: The newest content platform?

Facebook is holding discussions on hosting content from news organizations, which may affect the relationship with users. (Photo: bykst/Pixabay under CC license)

Facebook is holding discussions on hosting content from news organizations, which may affect the relationship with users.
(Photo: bykst/Pixabay under CC license)

It has been a momentous week for Facebook, as it held its F8 developer conference this week in San Francisco, with discussions on how the social network will work and what it can do for the future. One of the most notable features were the plans to make Messenger on a separate platform, creating content apps which include contributions from media organizations including ESPN and The Weather Channel.

Yet, as the conference was taking place, news emerged that could significantly affect Facebook’s relationship with news organizations.

The New York Times reported this week that the social network had been in conversations with various publishers to host content on Facebook itself, instead of being directed to the publisher’s site from a Facebook post.

The Times added that this would be tested within the next few months, with potential partners including BuzzFeed, National Geographic, and the Times itself. However, nothing has been confirmed and a specific timetable is yet to be established. Some concerns had been raised of the loss of some data when it came to readership, as well as a loss of readership within the publisher’s ecosystem, the Times report adds.

So, what would this mean for Facebook’s role with journalism, and journalism’s role with social media itself? Could publishers and Facebook make this work?

Jason Abbruzzese, a reporter with Mashable, says these discussions were expected, as Facebook and media were becoming increasingly intertwined.

“This was almost inevitable,” Abbruzzese said in a telephone interview. “It seemed to a lot of people we were heading this way for at least a couple of years.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC license)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg wants to create a perfect, personalized newspaper for every single user. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC license)

Abbruzzese says the big concern should not be on the loss of readership. There is larger readership, and the ability to reach more people quicker, but readership is being done on Facebook’s terms. Readership is being gained despite a loss in traffic to the site itself, Abbruzzese says, as Facebook looks to gain value from an audience used to getting news from smartphones and mobile.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to create a perfect, personalized newspaper for every user.

Lindsey Wiebe, the Associate Online Editor for Maclean’s Magazine in Toronto, Canada, says that the conversations with Facebook and publishers seemed to have been in work for a while, and notes a similar model from LinkedIn, where content can be submitted onto the platform, albeit it being less scrutinized.

“It’s an exciting time for publishers, and a scary time,” Wiebe said in a telephone interview. “Having more avenues for powerful storytelling isn’t a bad thing, [but] there are challenges and issues to ponder within publishing organizations.”

Wiebe adds that while it is a promising development, issues such as monetization and wider reader engagement need to be debated within newsrooms. It did, however, Wiebe says, grab the attention of many digital journalists, and showed the influence Facebook still has in social journalism.

“Facebook may not be the new shiny thing at the moment, but journalists who work more actively in a digital space would never underestimate it,” Wiebe said. “This has made us sit up and take notice, but no one was underestimating it. It was already a major player for newsrooms.”

Yet, should Facebook go ahead and adapt this wider strategy, are there plans for new social strategies to be in place? Will other social networks be abandoned in favor of Facebook, and perhaps create new content?

“If Facebook can deliver on the traffic promises, it can be hard to not tailor content to the Facebook experience,” Abbruzzese said, adding that Snapchat is already doing so via its Discover platform. “If Facebook can provide me with a tremendous audience, it would be hard not to alter the strategy perhaps at the risk of moving resources from Twitter or Pinterest.”

Wiebe says newsrooms must stay up to date on new technology, and as for Facebook, there is still a value, despite the criticism because of changes in the algorithm, and how that influences what news stories users see.

“It can be at times mystifying of being at the mercy of algorithm changes, but also you have an established reader community,” Wiebe said. “We need to stay on top of changes. Any newsroom cannot afford to rely on one social network. There is always a new platform to be investigated.”

Abbruzzese says its about getting great journalism out to as many people as possible, but the balance is still trying to be figured out. Abbruzzese adds that it can be positive in the short term, but there are questions to be answered long term.

Wiebe says Facebook and publishers are working towards the same goal of great storytelling and great content before a wide audience.

“We’d like to think of a relationship as mutually beneficial where each party has a need that is being filled,” Wiebe said, adding that she hoped content needs would mutually benefit both parties. “Whatever direction, I hope that Facebook will continue to work with publishers.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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Twitter’s investor concerns are journalists’ concerns

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said user growth is a priority as the social network tries to reassure investors. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said user growth is a priority as the social network tries to reassure concerned investors. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

As mentioned in Sunday’s blog post, Twitter reported its fourth quarter earnings last week. The social network had 288 million monthly active users according to its earnings release, with 80 percent of the active users using mobile apps.

One of the primary issues that investors raised with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and his managerial colleagues was that of user growth. Prior to the release of the earnings information, it was announced Twitter would enter a partnership with Google, to allow tweets to appear real time in searches.

Indeed, as the New York Times reported last week, Twitter executives are keen to emphasize that the reach of the social network extends beyond the usage of the network itself, be it on desktop or mobile, noting the appearance of embedded tweets, something frequently used on a number of news sites.

There are similarities with this strategy with the Google deal, however it is unclear when the Google-Twitter partnership would begin. Costolo, as reported by the Times, said it may not occur for at least a few months.

But as the concerns continue surrounding user growth, what does this say for Twitter’s long standing relationship with journalists and newsrooms? Could social strategies be thrown into question? Or, as Twitter executives attempt to prove the reach of the social network beyond its own services, could news organizations perhaps be part of the solution?

Twitter provides a distinct advantage for news organizations because it works in the nature of what is happening at the moment. It allows for an expansion of the relationship between audiences and news organizations. While it is unclear as to how the social network’s strategy will play with users, Twitter will need to be cautious on how they approach such a strategy in getting users.

Some features may work, others may not. Some may draw users in, others may run and never come back. That could include newsrooms, as they would reconsider what their best plans would be when it comes to social. The simpler the platform, the better the ability for quality interaction, whether it comes to UGC for a story or the ability to engage with the audience, no matter the beat.

Dick Costolo has a lot to consider as the weeks and months go ahead, and the decisions he makes on Twitter’s future is riding on not just whether he can restore the trust of investors, but users, and ultimately, journalists.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman and blogger at large of SPJ Digital, and community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Twitter tips for Black Friday reporting

Black Friday sale logoFew holiday traditions embolden us and irritate us at once like Black Friday.

Once a hallmark of dread in this country — in the 1960s, it referred to the day President John F. Kennedy was shot — Black Friday turned a profitable shade of green around 2005 when brick-and-mortar stores unilaterally realized its potential as a deal-making gimmick to stem losses from online-only Christmas retailers.

(That was back when the two were still rather distinct. Now, online retailers have their own arbitrary holiday observance, Cyber Monday.)

It’s arguable whether Black Friday has turned from gimmick to myth. Even though 141 million Americans elbowed and shoved each other on the way toward spending an estimated $57 billion on that day in 2013, a study by The Wall Street Journal found that over the previous six Black Fridays, shoppers actually found better deals on other days before Christmas.

Nevertheless, the madness in the aisles returns this week followed by an army of journalists employing social media — Twitter and Instagram in particular — to chronicle the ersatz tradition.

For shoppers brave enough wade through the crowds, perhaps the best advice is to wear pads and a helmet. But for journalists bobbing in Black Friday’s wake, these tweeting tips are paramount:

Always include hashtags, but not too many — Attaching a “#” to the front of a word or conjoined phrase turns it into metadata that search engines sift for and then regurgitate as trend topics. Using them enables Twitter users to find relevant conversations and terms quickly, whether that term is a store name, a popular gift, or a sales event. But limit the number of hashtags to three per tweet; it’s good Twitter protocol.

Be wary of “wow” promotions — Retailers recast themselves as newsmakers when they have big in-store promotions and make liberal use of “first” and “biggest” and “best” and similar unqualified terms to push their products. Before heading to the stores, research retailers’ Twitter accounts — distinguished with an “@” in front of their names instead of a hashtag — as well as brand accounts and compare feeds. Also, it helps to research a store’s or brand’s social media history to see whether supposed Black Friday discounts are better than or comparable to deals at other times of the year.

Track user engagement — Those hashtags come in handy when watching shopper and retailer behavior, but journalists have to pay attention to others’ feeds and not tweet blindly. Monitoring feeds enables reporters to see what people around them are doing and reduces the mistake of tweeting or retweeting contradictory or incorrect information.

Keep an eye on time stamps — And speaking of mistakes, Twitter’s habit of bumping popular tweets to the top of everyone’s feeds also creates confusion about when and where events actually happen. Consequently, in the rush to report, journalists may mistake old feeds for current ones. Take a second to look carefully at the time and date in gray to the right of the tweeter’s account name. Sure, it’s hard for old eyes to see, but a squint beats a gaffe every time.

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Deleting your tweeting is cheating

Delete Tweets iconRemember correction fluid? It had names such as Liquid Paper and Wite-Out.

How about correction tape?

Or, how about those pencil- or wheel-shaped typewriter erasers with a plastic brush at one end? The brush was intended to whisk away bits of worn eraser, which usually landed inside the typewriter anyway.

In the days before digital, these were the tools of reputation management. They were cumbersome, messy, and in the case of correction fluid, toxic; the fumes were as potent as gasoline — and anyone prone to typing errors inhaled a lot of fumes.

They also were imperfect at covering imperfections. Shrewd hiring managers held résumés and cover letters up to the light to find the telltale blotches and smudges left by correction fluid. Minus those, an applicant could land the job on perfect typing alone.

Today, we depend on the Delete or Backspace keys to correct mistakes and believe nobody is wise to our errors when they vanish off the screen before our eyes. In truth, the ghosts of our gaffes cling to the Web and leave telltale traces, much like correction fluid.

Nowhere is this more obvious than social media, especially Twitter, where bits of conversations spin off and tumble around inside the platform like socks in a Laundromat dryer. One phrase or image may be plucked out of context and hurled perhaps too far to see where it came from but not far enough to forget. And if that phrase or image is tasteless or inaccurate — well, imagine what happens when one red sock gets mixed in with a load of white laundry.

The solution, many journalists believe, is to delete the offending or inaccurate tweet, also known as scrubbing, but as recent examples suggest that only makes the problem worse.

Bloomberg Politics got caught up in a vicious spin cycle last month when it tweeted about an interview with White House chef Sam Kass about the Obamas’ family dining and paired a portrait of the president with what appears to be a stock image of chicken wings, thus stirring claims of racial stereotyping. The tweet came down without apology but not before thousands saw it and hundreds retweeted it.

The same week, CNN was hit by a tweetstorm after a staffer posted a photo of the network’s morning anchor team apparently making fun of the Ebola scare. The photo was even retweeted by a member of the anchor team before a CNN executive demanded it come down.

The following week, a national correspondent for CBS News suffered embarrassment over her reporting about U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s criticism of federal reaction to Ebola. Amid the dialog, she asserted that Paul lacked the medical wisdom to be objective on the matter. Paul has held a medical license in his home state of Kentucky since 1993, a fact that appears even on Wikipedia. Yet she pulled down the tweet instead of correcting the record.

In each case, the deletion had an impact opposite of what was intended. And not just these three; examples abound of media, celebrities, and politicians smearing their messes over a wider area merely by deleting an errant or inappropriate tweet.

The better strategy? Leave the tweet alone and post a follow-up containing a correction or an apology if necessary. Here’s why:

It minimizes confusion — Retweets, no matter their number, trace back to their origins, and having a string of retweets linked to a blank space in the Twitter time stream can confuse readers who are following the story or merely trying to corroborate information posted by other journalists and readers.

It maximizes credibility — Wherever a gap exists in the Twitter time stream, other Twitter users fill it with conjecture and assumption. Admitting a mistake or issuing an apology not only prevents speculation from seeping into the conversation, it also demonstrates responsibility on the part of the Twitter user and responsible users are considered credible sources.

You can’t change the past — Once a tweet goes live, it never really dies. The Library of Congress signed a deal with Twitter in 2010 to sweep up all Tweets for posterity and now keeps them in a sprawling searchable database.

Typewriters compelled users to think twice before hitting the keys to avoid cumbersome corrections. Treating Twitter with the same respect yields the same result.

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Can Facebook be a successful breaking news platform?

Recent weeks have seen a debate as to whether Facebook can catch up with Twitter and breaking news through its algorithms. (Vicipaedianus x / Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Recent weeks have seen a debate as to whether Facebook can catch up with Twitter and breaking news through its algorithms. (Vicipaedianus x / Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Within the last few weeks, there has been much debate on social media’s effect as a platform of journalism. The news coming out of Ferguson, Missouri in particular with the protests in light of the death of Michael Brown, has seen much reflection on what Facebook and Twitter can become for journalists.

What has come to focus is on the matter of the algorithm, how it should be written, and if it should be redone, as much of the news on Ferguson came on Twitter rather than Facebook, where much of the focus this past month was on the ice bucket challenge for the ALS Foundation. As Mathew Ingram noted on GigaOM, the tone on Facebook is set by the powerful ranking algorithms.

Indeed, because of this, some are suggesting that Twitter has become the go-to source to keep up with real time trends, news and conversations, including John Naughton of The Open University in the UK, writing in the British Sunday newspaper The Observer, noting statistics that saw higher Facebook referrals for articles related to the ice bucket challenge rather than the events in Ferguson.

Naughton then wrote this conclusion.

“What you see on Twitter is determined by who you follow,” Naughton said. “In contrast, what you see in your Facebook newsfeed is “curated” by the company’s algorithms, which try to guess what will interest you (and induce you to buy something, perhaps). Having a frank discussion about the racism that disfigures America might not fit that bill. Which is why Facebook is for ice-bucket memes and Twitter is for what’s actually going on.”

In a telephone interview with this blog, Gina Cole of the Seattle Times said Ferguson conveyed a tone for Twitter and the reaction afterward, including coverage.

It’s interesting to see how this was more nationally covered on Twitter and how many were on the ground because of Twitter,” Cole said. “You can turn Ferguson into #Ferguson and everybody knows where to go to get information.”

Cole added that at the time it was an excellent source for breaking news and discussion on the subject, compared to Facebook. Cole said the algorithms caused a difference in how the story was seen on both platforms. Cole notes the follow function on Facebook, which allows users to follow users’ posts that are public, including journalists, however was not sure how much of a role it had.

It’s odd to watch these two platforms try to become more like each other, when really as a user I think of them differently and use them differently,” Cole said, adding that you may not want to see multiple postings by one person. “If something is happening, you want a live stream of event. Twitter’s platform is more suited to that.”

But can Facebook compete with Twitter when it comes to a breaking news platform? Cole says its possible, but significant changes would need to be made.

Algorithms would have to change, posting display would have to change,” Cole said. “Facebook needs to find a way to be differently useful than Twitter. Find a niche. Find a way I can use Facebook that Twitter doesn’t offer.”

Alex Veeneman is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists based in Chicago. Veeneman also serves as Special Projects Editor and writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can tweet him @alex_veeneman.

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