If anyone was unsure of the echo chamber capabilities of Twitter, today was a great example. In the wake of reports of Michael Jackson’s death, a very smart and relatively unscrupulous person posted two fake articles about George Clooney and Jeff Goldblum having died in New Zealand in completely separate and unrelated circumstances.
Twitter bought in, and the messages started (and still are) flying around like hotcakes in a lumberjack food fight. I even bought in for a few minutes, but you’ll notice that the pages were fakes. If you rolled over, or clicked on any of the other links in the pages that looked very much like news sites with tabs like “Business” and “World News,” etc., you would see that all navigation links on the page link back to the page you are already reading. That is, there is no navigation. There is no rest of the site. There is just what looks like a navigation bar to give the illusion of a site.
Furthermore, if you took the time to scroll to the bottom of the site you would see this:
So, you know… pretty clear… “not factual,” “fabricated”.
The question remains… these guys brought in a whole boat-load of traffic to sites that have ads prominently displayed… what’s their conversion? How much are they making off of this, and how can this inherent issue with real-time message distribution in services like Twitter avoid being gamed so badly when real news events like the death of Michael Jackson prompt flurries of emotionally influenced posting?
I think it begins to come to personal responsibility and due diligence, but that’s a topic for another post…