Entries Tagged as 'twitter'

In disasters…Social Media isn’t always right

One of the things about Social Media is that it isn’t always right.

I know this will come as a shock to some of you.  But it isn’t.  And it can become a life threatening concern during crisis communications.  You know, for example when the shit is hitting the fan, in say New South Wales due to record early major fires.

Of course there are those social media expert guru’s (colloquial know as #smeg’s) who will say otherwise that social media is the be all and end all during crisis comms.

The type of people that run with on the ground “reporting” of an event, where rumour can readily become fact; heard  third hand, or from a friend  becomes fact, and where but it was on Instagram means it must be true. In the rush to be first on social media, the rush to get the most retweets “facts” are  a secondary concern.  #smeg’s think that because second-hand sources of information (such as councils) aren’t live tweeting an event it is an outrage, a tweet that doesn’t see fire resources sent in response becomes an outrage.

The rush to be first to tell something can get people killed.  I saw and know of many reports of the Minmi fire jumping the F3 (sorry the M1 Motorway to those born post 2013), reports that were on both social media and commercial radio.  Reports that, by the way, did turn out to be wrong.  These were reports I had to tell a family member who was close by, no they aren’t real. Reports that if people reacted to could have caused stress, panic and even unnecessary evacuations.  Evacs that could have blocked the roads required by the emergency services to stop the fire jumping the road.  But hey, “I tweeted it first”, “I retweeted it first”, “I saw a post from a friend that said it was true, so I will share it so I can be first”, all turned out to be wrong. Funny thing was the ABC and the RFS didn’t tweet these “facts”, didn’t share this information, why because it wasn’t true.

Trust in an agency to get the information right and right the first time is important.  This doesn’t mean being first as is the want of many #smeg’s.

Take Google’s Crisis Maps for NSW.  They don’t just rely on rumours from social media; they rely on the cold hard facts from the RFS. (as an aside they work when the RFS servers are overloaded).  Why, because they are the go-to source.  Why didn’t the local council in the affected areas suddenly open up a twitter account and start tweeting? Because in this case they aren’t the go-to source.  Certainly not, when they don’t have an established system, protocol, trained staff and direct access to the agency that is actually in charge, yes the RFS. And what info would a council tweet, the source info, the RFS anyway!

Now when the shit hits the fan of course the RFS are going to be slower than people want, why because they are fact checking before they communicate.  An awareness of this small thing that seems to be missing from many peoples criticism of other organisations.

I know who I would retweet and share info from.  I have a wide range of trusted sources, these are people that work for organisations like the RFS.

Yes, social media does have  an important place during crisis comms.  The geotagged photo from an event can help.

Yet being first doesn’t always mean being right.

The amount of times I have seen “disaster” photos shared on social media, that aren’t even of the unfolding events but an early and different event, or the reports of something happening, which isn’t are scary.

A social media report saying a road is open, retweeted from 3 hours ago, when in fact a fire is heading straight for it, could see people get killed. What if the RFS reacted to all these reports, sent crews to areas they were not needed, because social media said so and people got killed.  What will the #smeg’s reaction be then…

Things Twitter didn’t do with Osama bin Laden’s death…

There are a number of things that are being credited to this thing called Twitter, but before it becomes the stuff of powerpoint presentations of #smegs around the world and snake oil sales men (note: terms are interchangeable), a few things need to be set straight.

Firstly, Twitter didn’t break the news. The news was broken, old fashioned style via a leak. A leak I am sure the Whitehouse was not uncomfortable with. Given how much they had kept everything under wraps down to the amazing poker faced Obama at the Correspondents Dinner, this leak was not without some level of purpose. The leak ensured that there was audience for the announcement. In the old days, Keith Urbahn would have phoned a reporter at a local radio station, these days he just put it on twitter.

“So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn” at 10:24EST.

Did Twitter break the story, no, Keith did. Please remember that when you are prepping those powerpoints. I’d also say that Twitter was not the first place that Keith spread the news to either.

Of course, once this happened, the “cat” was out of the bag, (or to coin a really bad turn of phrase ) the Osama was in the bag. Did CNN, NYT, ABC etc tell this, no, they did old fashioned journalism.They checked for sources, rechecked, cross checked etc.

I for example, didn’t rt that original link, why because I wanted “proof”, proof in the form of more than one source that can be verified. I know, showing my age, but hey.

Like all good stories, there was a build up. The tension, what was his “secret” press conf about that traditional media ( well in the form of websites ) had hinted about 30 minutes beforehand. Why was it taking so long for Obama to deliver the press conference, given that he is usually so punctual.

Twitter did help kill the time. The jokes were funny. Well they were the first time. Yet each joke was a variation on the iphone,foursquare, twitter, even Playstation hack location. Nothing original, all been done before. The sad thing is these jokes have lasted longer than the time it took to bury Osama, but should have been buried at sea with him.

Finally, traditional media had enough proof. Obama wasn’t on air yet, but the story had been confirmed. Did Twitter break this story,no, why because Twitter doesn’t generate content, it distributes content. NYT, ABC, CNN etc had enough evidence to pass the burden of proof.

The story was told, and then something interesting came out. Turns out the story had already been told. When Athar (@ReallyVirtual) tweeted the noise of helicopters, explosions et al near his home in Abbotabad it was unusual for the location. Very quickly though it would turn out to be a claim to “internet fame” (note: internet fame is measure in internet years, which is around 2 days ).

So of course Twitter jumps on the story, that the story was on Twitter. Funny thing was that no one talked about his tweets a few hours before hand. Why, because it wasn’t a big story then. Once traditional media and a president made an announcement it became a story. See, no Twitter, just a lot of luck.

People are now saying, that because he live tweeted the raid, the future for covert ops like this are in danger. A couple of points. Osama didn’t use twitter, remember the lack of phones in the compound attracted US interest. Secondly, possibly more importantly, by the time that the event was being “live tweeted”, the team of Navy Seals with weapons firing jumping out of low flying helicopters was most probably a bit of a give away to the bad guys as it were.

Now I am a big a fan of Twitter as everyone else, but it distributed the message, it didn’t create the message. Had I been watching ABCnews24 or even more old school listening to the radio I would have still heard the story, just 15 or so minutes later.

#EQNZ – A Social Timetable

Well, this isn’t going to be the definitive paper on the subject, but more a collection of facts and details.

In doing some research for an upcoming presentation for work, I decided to reference some of the data that came out of the Feb 22, 6.3 Christchurch earthquake.

This is also for showing that traditional media as a resource for reaching out and spreading the word about an event has now to deal with the implications of what is to all intents and purposes a real-time collaborative series of platforms, that work unfiltered by traditional rules.

And to save other people the trouble of trawling for the data, here is what I have found so far:

Times in UTC:

Quake: 2011 February 21 23:51:42 UTC: ( Source: USGS website )

Duration: 37 seconds (Source: Rebuild Christchurch )

23:52:19 UTC :Final time Post Earthquake:

(Timestamp on images in AEDT – Images link through to source tweet)

Feb 21 23:52:42 +0000 2011 First Tweet:

23 seconds after the quake.

(found by backtracking several users timeline to point of tweet to the timeof the quake ) –

Feb 21 23:53:17 +0000 2011 First Tweet Referencing #eqnz:

58 seconds after the quake.

Feb 21 23:53:17 +0000 2011 First Tweet Referencing Earthquake:

(Google Realtime Search)

Feb 21 23:55:47 +0000 2011 First Tweet from one of the 2694 people I follow:

3:28 seconds after the quake

Feb 21 23:55:47 +0000 2011 First Twit Pic:

3:28 seconds after the quake

Feb 21 23:55:47 +0000 2011 First=C2=A0 Twitpic with #eqnz tag:

Feb 21 23:57:37 +0000 2011 First Tweet from @nzstuff

Feb 22 00:06:52 +0000 2011 My First Official Data:

14 Minutes 33 seconds after the quake finished:

(My Tweet via refreshing the USGS website)

Feb 22 00:08:09 +0000 2011 First Confirmation of the Quake Data ( Tweet ):

15minutes 50 seconds after the quake finished.

Feb 22 00:08:55 +0000 2011 First Tweet from Australian News Source @abcnews

15minutes 55 seconds after the quake finished.


First Video on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dqt0iIHXFnR0 ( Details still to confirm )

Feb 22 00:18:00 +0000 2011 Wikipedia

25minutes 41 seconds after the quake:

Page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch_Earthquake,_2011

(Source: Revision History )

Feb 22 12:15:49 +0000 2011 Official Christchurch Council Twitter Account goes live:

12 Hours, 23 minutes after the quake

By the time the Council come onboard, the rumour mill re blood donations, etc is in full over drive: For over 6 hours there were over 100tweets p/m just on the #eqnz tag.

The time to be prepared is not when the disaster has happened, but now.


Please tell me if I have missed any content, or tweets that should be in this timeline. ( I will update this post when I get more information as well )

I like the old twitter better than your new twitter…

Ok… now that I have murdered song lyrics for a title, I think I have set the tone I was after.

I don’t like the “New” Twitter layout. And the constant reminders that it is going to go… ” our using an older version of Twitter that won’t be around for much longer” fill me with what is in reality a #firstworldproblem kind of dread.

I run a lot of accounts off and on, and yes I am more than familiar with a number of apps and different solutions. I use Seemic on my phone, have used dabr on my old phone, tweetdeck on my computers and even twirl. But I like the simplicity of “Old Twitter”.

With 40k+ tweets, and having been on Twitter since May 2007, I think a: I crap on a lot and b: I am a regular user of the platform. And whilst I see all the benefits of the apps, I like the simplicity that the web interface gives me. Also it means that I am in my primary app for content creation and can just move between windows to share content.

I like the clean nature of the website and that it does just sit into the background, apps demand to much attention and show the flow of information almost to well.  I know every tweet and every link doesn’t need to be read, certainly, not in the same window. If I want the content, I am happy to let it load in another window for example, or just bookmark it for later reading. I like seeing when I have new Direct Messages, not have them hidden in a tool bar.

I like the stability of the old twitter as well. All the bells and whistles just create problems. I move between new and old computers all the time and find that new twitter eats content, breaks media and causes more frustration, ironically leading to me missing more content.

I can see why people do like the new twitter, but I am not one of them.

Given that my original tweet “dear twitter stop threatening to get rid of old twitter or I will write an angry blog post that 5 people might read.” made it to the home page of twitter, was rt by hundreds of people and has got me lots of comments about it, I don’t think I am alone in my thinking.

So I implore you kind folks at twitter, who give me a service that I have not paid 1cent to use, let me have old twitter as an option.



P.S can you please fix my direct messages count, and whilst you are at it… get rid of the people squatting on twitter handles for more than 12 months.

P.P.S I still like you Twitter, and I still want to be friends with your website.

The only Social Media Policy you need

Don’t crap on the hand that feeds you.

Of course the more “polite version” is don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but I think mine has a nicer ring to it.

This applies to most social platforms as well.  In many respects it comes down to treating your audience as you want to be treated audience may not necessarily be customers but could simply be people that you follow the public you want to follow of people that you interact with other casual basis.

In this day and age there is a good chance that somebody further up the food chain than you in your organisation is either going to be following you directly or have access to the material you have written through some means.  There doesn’t have to be anything nefarious in those means, it is just an is these days.  Say you’re having a bad day at work complaining loudly about your organisation will get you noticed in a way that you would necessarily be comfortable with.

That is not to say you cannot complain about your work but do it in such a way that you don’t bring your organisation into disrepute without realising it may be consequences for you.

Even if you only use Social Media for social interaction and have nothing to do with any job in any way what so ever, the hand that feeds you is your followers.  The relationship you have with them will define which part of crapping on the hand that feeds you something falls into.  I follow lots of people who’s material is not fit for work, or even for re tweeting for example.

If you use Twitter for incessantly tweeting about competitions inherently lowering your chance of winning a competition like all pyramid schemes you’re going to annoy lot of people.  If you consider having your timeline full competitions don’t expect the a lot of followers and certainly very little conversation, then go ahead. If you are a company getting people to re-tweet your competition,  you’re going to damage your brand not improve it doing this.  Why because your brand will be associated with the incessant re-tweeting as well as the person doing the re-tweeting.

Whether we like it or not our personal lives and our personal interactions on social media will come back to within the workplace at some point in time.  How these interactions affect us at work or even at home depend on how we conduct ourselves.

There are plenty of cases of people overstepping the boundaries in some cases it may well have been deliberate or a one off the error of judgement.  But in all these cases it still comes back to level of personal responsibility and personal judgement.  If you can justify through your history on social media that you haven’t broken the rules as a standard practice you may find yourself in a lot better place if you do overstep a  boundary.

For an organisation the audience are all potential customers and while some organisations embrace social media and the opportunities that it presents many worry about the risks outweigh the benefits.  There is not to say that social media is a panacea for every company and their woes. There are though are lots of opportunities to be had.  In this case the hand that feeds you is easy to define and the risks of making a mistake is somewhat higher.  However like above if you establish the history a single mistake can be overlooked or addressed quickly and easily.

The harder part of this policy is the common sense aspect.  People are going to complain. You need to work out if your behaviour is something that is worth complaining about. People said I posted to many photos in one go, and guess what they were right I did.  So I tweak the Twitterfeed to reduce the volume. Problem solved, this had nothing to do with work, but I took my followers as a hand that feeds me.  When I had a bad few days at work with general stress, I just jumped of twitter for a while.  I happen to like where I work and having a bad few days wasn’t going to change that. Bitching on Twitter would have.

So next time you are having a bad day, somebody has annoyed you, got under your skin, or just even themselves being an idiot, consider your response.  Is your response going to crap on the hand that feeds you. Really it isn’t that hard!

My #730spill #730report t-shirt proves controversial….

Well I never….

When I set out to make a t-shirt about the changing of the guard in #730reportland, I never figured it would be controversial. I’ve had more comments about it on twitter than any other t-shirt.

People have criticised me for who I have left off and the order they people were put in. The order is random by the way, just the way I looked peoples names up and nothing more.

Names put to me include ( in no particular order ) Me ( and no I didn’t nominate myself), Barrie Cassidy, Monica Attard, B1 and B2, Big Ted, @firstdogonmoon, David Speers, Chris Lilley, Johnathan Holmes, Laurie Oakes, Mark Colvin, Steve Cannane and Eleanor Hall, just to name a few.

If I sell a couple more… and get some more names… I might be forced to make a senate ballot paper.

So go buy the t-shirt, hoodie or long sleeve… and leave a comment.

"me = exit" – The t-shirt

If you follow me on twitter… you know I sign off most days with “me = exit”.

And I’ve been thinking for a while it would make a great t-shirt.  Now that Redbubble do back prints, it works even better.  It most situations the last thing that people see is the back of your shirt.

Remember if you buy anything of mine from Redbubble it does go into my Camera gear fund 🙂

Click the image to buy the t-shirt (from $30 AUD )

So when does a freelance tech journo's point of view on politics matter. #mediawatch

It matters when an obvious right wing twitter user decides he can act like a 3 year old and tell tales.  ( Media Watch 30/9/2010)

What then irritates me even more is when Media Watch and Fairfax take what is obviously a political agenda and run with it.  Like vexatious litigants taking up our time, this complaint falls into this category.

I fail to see how a person that doesn’t interview politicians, has nothing to do with them or their reporting cannot express a political view.  Perhaps the language was not the best, but the sentiment was well agreed with by those with similar political views.

Yet for some reason the label of “Journalist” means that the person is no longer entitled to a political view no matter where within an organisation or even external to that organisation.

More so, if anyone who is any Journalist now makes any comment even when obviously not on the job (at 11pm) expresses any political view on Twitter a precedent has been established to rake them over the coals.

Gloating about telling tales is plain childish, certainly doesn’t further any arguments about the reasoning behind what was nothing more than a blatant biased political attack.  If Julia Gillard had been called bad names, would he have complained.  I doubt it. ( e.g saying  Paul Howl is talking shit )

Why also did Media Watch deem this newsworthy is also questionable.  700 followers and an account which clearly stated Freelance Tech Journalist making political statements is not that big a story is it?

The fallout from Media Watch will be for at least a while people will keep a little quieter.  Managers will look at the noise that was generated and tighten the noose a little more. And a few people will just go underground, well at least until they are found out again.

A vexatious complainant with an obvious political agenda gets to wield influence that could have cost someone a sizeable chunk of their income ( I presume). Yes the language was a bit harsh, and yes on reflection he shouldn’t have said what he did, but remove one or two harsh words and you are left with the tone.  The tone is now what is endangered not only from Journalists, but all those that work in any corporation that is worried about its public image.

The lines between public and private are blurring, but that does not mean that only your employer is how you are defined, nor should it.

Television has an off switch remember that!

The funny things about the television is that people seem to forget the remote control. This can be used for a number of startling features including changing channels and even more radical feature, turning the device off.

Why am I rating this, well, due to the various levels of outrage over the live coverage of the hostage drama in Manila on Monday night Australian time. Like 9/11 this was uncensored TV that showed life and death in all its brutal reality. This was no Speed where Keanu would save the day, this was real people caught up in one man’s madness by being nothing more than in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Was it hard to watch, yes, did I watch it, yes I did. Was I watching as some sort of voyeur I would say no, but that may well be for others to judge.  Was it right for it to be shown on TV, that is the trickery moral question.  For me it is like “Bearing Witness”.  Albeit from the safety of my living room.

Certainly no one can argue that it was not news worthy. 25 innocent hostages on a bus with a deranged gun man wanting his job back is news worthy. Whether or not it is in Australia it was always going to be a major story. Cutting to live feed as it came through was most probably what most 24 hour news channels would do, both Sky and Abc News24 did. Sky I believe did switch to at least a 10th second delay giving them a “kill” switch if anything to horrific came through. The ABC did not.

But like 9/11 the drama unfolded live. Yet unlike the footage of the people jumping from the towers all we saw were slumped bodies and the eventually the dead body of the gun man hanging on the bus window.

Perhaps with so much life and death violence on TV we have all become desensitised to this level of violence. I think not however.  Perhaps I have more faith in humanity, but even the outrage that I saw on Twitter last night about the coverage in a strange way gave me hope.

At the end of the day though, it is still YOUR responsibility to change channels or turn off.  That power will always lie with you, not with the broadcaster.  Everyone watching it unfold knew it could be bad, if you kept watching that was your choice.

Think before you tweet… a 1 hour old murder case is NOT Funny! #LygonShooting

At 5pm on the 13th of August 2010, 2 people are slain in Lygon Street.

From ABC News ( 7:30pm)

“The shooting happened in Lygon Street, Carlton, and police received a call about 5:00pm (AEST) that shots had been fired.
One witness said shots were fired at or outside the Players on Lygon bar.
Police have confirmed two people are dead.
The victims are believed to be in their 60s or 70s.
One man, reported to be in his 50s, has been taken into custody.
“Details are very, very sketchy,” a police spokeswoman said.”

Yet despite this… the @DocklandsMelb think it is o.k to capitalise on this for their own gain. Now I have seen a few jokes around already, mostly referring to Underworld XXV or Richard Wilkins and Jeff Goldblum.  These jokes while yes in bad taste are quite removed from the situation and what for at least three families will be a day that they will never forget.

“Come to Docklands for dinner tonight. We promise this wont happen #LygonShooting about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck”

There are jokes and there is just stupidity.  Twitter lets you just blurt shit out.  People do ( even I do ), but if you are reflecting a company…  pause, take a breath and think about everything you say.  Even when the tweet is deleted and the apology is sent, the damage has been done. To say this is in bad taste does it no justice, it is wrong on some many levels and reflects badly on the company.  Remember in the real time world, you can’t afford to be stupid.

[image title=”docklands” size=”full” id=”1335″ align=”right” linkto=”full” ]

( Update: Don’t send a tweet and then not look at your account over the weekend as well….   Monday morning and Docklands sent 1 tweet over the weekend and nothing in the form of an apology for shear tastelessness )