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Truth and consequences: a dilemma for Twitter

Gerry Shih (via SMH/Reuters) | April 25, 2013
Does Twitter have a credibility problem?

"We saw it, we saw the initial reaction. Initially our reaction was, pull your bids [until we] see whether this is legit or not. We found no legitimacy to it and went back into the market as normal," he said.

Oli Freeling-Wilkinson is chief executive of Knowsis, a London company that picks out and amalgamates financially relevant tweets and other social media content for traders. "We do have spam controls in place, but it's an ongoing war," he said. "It's much more difficult to work out what's going on when people are hacking into official accounts, especially in the heat of the moment."

While Twitter has occasionally signalled that it believes it could become more than a passive distribution network - a shift marked by last year's purchase of Summify, a small start-up that specialised in surfacing relevant news - it has also taken pains to distance itself from the content of tweets and maintain strict neutrality from a legal perspective.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told an Online News Association gathering last year that Twitter's primary responsibility was to create a platform, rather than to play an editorial role in determining which tweets people should see.

"A company trying to build media is creating or curating content, and that's not the kind of company we're creating," Costolo said.

Gillmor, from Arizona State, said Twitter did not need to guarantee the quality or veracity of its content in order to grow into a media juggernaut.

"It's not whether Twitter is credible or not, it's what people do with it," he said. "Every news organisation feels it has no alternative but to use Twitter. But everyone at the traditional news organisations has to be thinking really hard about what that means, from whether the security is sufficient on these third-party platforms to what it means to be turning part of your stuff over to new kinds of publishers."


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