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The Dangers of Twitter

This week my relationship to Twitter took odd twists and turns. Lots of things happened on Twitter this week, including George Stephanopoulos conducting his first "twitterview" with none other than John McCain, who I thought didn't even use email. Apparently, McCain loves Twitter , but that didn't keep the interview from being a real snoozer. &

I get a lot of news and event information from Twitter, but this week the micro-blogging site caused some brow wrinkling for me. Yesterday, Gawker tweeted a post from Time Out New York declaring the death of actress Natasha Richardson from injuries incurred in a skiiing accident. I immediately retweeted Gawker's tweet. I then got up from my chair and told my colleagues Richardson was dead, which had everyone saddened by the tragedy. One of my followers retweeted my retweet of the Gawker tweet (did you follow that?). I checked the New York Times and they reported Richardson as only having "serious injuries." As the day progressed, Time Out retracted their original post saying Richardson was only "brain dead." TMZ got into the mix and the Times stuck with their original report of "serious injuries." I felt like an idiot. In this business, you don't declare something to be true until it's been multi-sourced, etc. & But the Twitter trigger is strong with me, people. & I made the mistake of thinking that Twitter was another layer of editorial oversight. & If Time Out reported it and Gawker tweeted it, well, hell, it must be true! We really need to think of Twitter as our massive electronic water cooler, with all of the pleasures and risks attendant.

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