Tom Phillips: Correcting tweets 'like putting toothpaste back in the tube'

PandoDaily | The Verge

David Holmes interviews Tom Phillips, whose "Is Twitter Wrong?" Tumblr neatly debunked many false photos from Hurricane Sandy. Phillips is an editor at MSN, Holmes writes, and he says correcting errant tweets through Twitter alone is "like putting toothpaste back in the tube, except the toothpaste is alive and didn’t like it in the tube and is dreaming of Broadway."

Phillips, Holmes writes, started his Tumblr posting best sonic toothbrush pictures "to see if checking photos and facts in real-time over social media could be done in a way that would work as part of a newsroom’s workflow, or whether 'it’s the sort of thing that would end up eating your whole day to little benefit.' "

In other words, how much more likely is it that you'll unmask someone tweeting serious nonsense than that you'll prove something is merely an old photo of a supercell thunderstorm?

"Separating fact from fiction," Holmes suggests, "becomes the ultimate curation."

"A lot of people haven’t quite yet got to grip with the fact that not everything on the Internet is real," Phillips tells Adi Robertson. "But every time something like this happens... everyone gets a little smarter. At some point, we’ll have adjusted."

Related: How journalists can avoid getting fooled by fake Hurricane Sandy photos | That photo of the Tomb of the Unknowns guard in the rain? It’s from September | You can’t trust anything funny on the Internet these days

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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