Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Revisiting corrections on Twitter in the wake of the Arizona shootings

News organizations on Twitter--and the rest of us who follow breaking news--are learning every time a major news event takes that channel by surprise. This past weekend, it was the shooting rampage in Arizona, during which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was erroneously reported as having died.  And it's happened with plenty of other events. Amidst the scramble to report updates, tweeters are working to establish norms for handling corrections for the almost-inevitable inaccurate news that gets shared.

We've talked before about correcting a moving record on Twitter, noting that one correction may not be enough to put out the fire, and that you may need a backchannel for additional discussion.  But this weekend's episode yielded more insights from Scott Rosenberg, a co-founder of Salon and director of MediaBugs.org. His take: Your policy should be to correct that erroneous tweet, but don't delete it. He offers this example, supposing you had already announced Giffords' death; it involves re-tweeting your original as written, with a correction note appended in front of it:

CORRECTION Giffords wounded, in critical condition RT @NPR BREAKING: Rep. Giffords (D-AZ), 6 others killed by gunman in Tucson

The reason? Transparency, and retaining an historic part of the narrative. You can read more about that concept in Are corrections part of your transparency policy?, which yielded another good tip:  Create an RSS feed for your corrections--and do that before the next crisis, so it can help you correct the record with speed.  Time to make sure your social media policy includes a policy on how corrections will be handled.

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