Terror Attacks in Mumbai & Overestimating the Potential of Twitter

Written by Amit Agarwal on Nov 27, 2008

What just happened in Mumbai has given us ("bloggers") another chance to proclaim that Twitter, and not mainstream media, is “the” place to go for getting breaking news updates. See this conversation on Techmeme.


My own experience with Twitter, in this particular case,  is however very different.

True, there are some good souls who are live-tweeting from their bases in Mumbai but how do we track them down among thousands of updates flowing in every minute. For instance, I searched for “mumbai OR bombay” on Twitter and within the next second, it added 150 new updates to the queue. Ah!


The problem is not just about volume, most of the news you get from Twitter is often sourced from MSM whom we love to hate. It works like this – I read a news headline on TV and tweet it. My friends catch that tweet and retweet. Their friends do the same and the cycle continues.


Another issue is related to rumors that are not so uncommon on twitter. I just read a tweet saying that terrorists inside the hotel are using the #mumbai page to get updates and hence the Indian government is planning to block twitter in India. It’s definitely false yet lot of people are retweeting it.

I really love Twitter and it is a good place to catch that first breaking news headline but for all subsequent updates, I will still prefer the good old BBC, CNN, NDTV or CNN IBN who have journalists reporting live from the scene. Luckily, all these channels provide live streaming videos so you don’t have remain glued to the television set anymore.

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