Communications and Society blog: By and for students in Marist COM 201

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Social Networking Sites as Skewed News Media

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Last Friday, there was a fire on the asylum property down the street. As soon as it was noticeable from campus, people starting running/speed walking/driving towards it to check it out. Half an hour later, people starting putting up pictures of it on Facebook. Others make their status updates about how the fire was arson.

Sunday, suspicious graffiti was found spray painted on blocks 4, 5, 6, 7, and electrical boxes in Upper Fulton. According to director of safety and security, John Gildard, people starting tweeting rumors that the graffiti was gang-related. This resulted in the security office receiving several calls from panicked students and parents.

Clearly, social networking systems like Facebook and Twitter are great for getting the word out about something in a timely manner, but people trusting them for all the facts is ridiculous. With the graffiti in Upper Fulton (upperclassman housing across the street), Mr. Gildard said that things like people tweeting their theories on how it was gang-related caused concern and panic when there didn’t need to be. Apparently some of the freaked out people he dealt with were connecting the incident to the asylum fire, or suggesting that the graffiti was done by the alleged “Smiley Face Gang.” I understand that when scary rumors are circulated on the Internet are hard to ignore–especially if they make it seem that your safety isn’t secure. But, we have to realize that these sties aren’t meant for serious news reporting; when a tweet alludes to a gang that may or may not exist, consider the source.

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Written by msperanza

May 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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