As blogger Tim Mallon put it, “I started to see and (sic) ugly side to Twitter, far from being a crowd-sourced version of the news it was actually an incoherent, rumour-fueled mob operating in a mad echo chamber of tweets, re-tweets and re-re-tweets.
“During the hour or so I followed on Twitter there were wildly differing estimates of the numbers killed and injured – ranging up to 1,000.”
What is clear that although Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted.
A quick trawl through the enormous numbers of tweets showed that most were sourced from mainstream media.
Someone tweets a news headline, their friends see it and retweet, prompting an endless circle of recycled information.
Social media, crowdsourcing, the wisdom of Crowds, etc. are topics for very delusional people. Like socialism and our fond notions of capitalism, they presuppose that everyone else out there is neurotic, harmless and just trying to help.
The reality is that a Crowd is comprised of individuals giving in to their selfish impulses, but wanting to hide behind “hey well everyone else is doing it.” It’s the human equivalent of a slow stampede.
And when you’re in a Crowd, you want to stand out, so everyone starts bloviating at once and trying to make themselves look important using the information they supposedly care about… yeah. No surprise it’s an incoherent mess.
You can see crowds at work in Democracy, the inaccuracy of wikipedia (except the manga articles), lynchings, food riots, and the wisdom of the average investor. Crowds are death for common sense.