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Is Twitter broken?

Hacks, false information have some questioning Twitter’s resolve

By , Network World
May 01, 2013 03:22 PM ET

Page 2 of 2

Implementing two-factor authentication will not solve all of the problems that have cropped up around Twitter in recent weeks though. It may help prevent the AP’s account from being hacked, but it would do nothing to prevent false rumors from spreading like wildfire.
Wired reporter Mat Honan offers a solution in a recent article, noting that he regrettably tweeted incorrect information linking Brown University missing student Sunil Tripathi to the Boston Marathon bombings. When Honan tweeted it out, some number of people retweeted it, sharing it with their followers; some number of their followers may have retweeted it as well. Even if Honan had issued some corrective alert to his followers that the tweet was incorrect, it would not guarantee that everyone else down that chain of retweets would see it as well.

Honan, therefore, proposes a way to mark tweets as having knowingly false information, or showing them having been edited. Twitter does allow the ability to delete Tweets, which also deletes the post from any users who have retweeted it, but there is no post-facto editing of Tweets currently. Others have proposed some sort of upvoting and downvoting system, a common feature of many social media sharing sites like Reddit.

Paul Gillin, a social media expert in the Boston area, says all of these issues amount to “growing pains” for Twitter as a platform. Twitter is being used in ways that its creator Jack Dorsey likely did not originally envision when he created it in 2006. Gillin is optimistic that between steps Twitter will take, such as implementing two-factor authentication, and by the general Twitter user base learning who to trust and who not to, that the platform will improve. He cautions against throwing out crowd-sources platform altogether though. Wikipedia, for example, after last month’s bombings very quickly compiled a well-sourced posting on the incident. “Don’t dismiss tools because of some bad experiences,” he says.  

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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