Twitter – warping our view of the real world?

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend Mashup’s event for Social Media Week London on Twitter and the future of journalism. It was a fantastic look at the role Twitter plays in today’s journalism and how it’s changing our view of what’s newsworthy and what’s not.

Of course there were the Twitter positives: self-publishing, raw reporting, finding and reaching people you wouldn’t normally be able to, breaking news, the huge opportunities for agile media newcomers, publishing to readers on the platforms they’re engaging with, staying in touch with audiences and finding niches etc etc.

However, it started to emerge that there is a seedy underside to Twitter, firstly that validation and verification are two huge problems on the platform, but even more significantly, that our view of the world can being massively narrowed by an over reliance on social media.

One of the big advantages of Twitter for users is that they can choose to personalise their content and filter it by the type of information they want to read. And one of the disadvantages of Twitter is that people can easily choose to listen to very little.

This gives us a warped perspective on what’s important and what’s not. Social discovery doesn’t mean you’re getting a wide angled view of the world, it just means you’re discovering things that people you’re similar to (such as your friends) have found.

We need to remember this when we’re either consuming content from Twitter or using it as a source of leads for our next story. There’s whole world of news out there which we won’t ever come into contact with if we rely on our social connections alone.