Twitter makes it almost effortless to forward information, and the common profile disclaimer ‘RTs are not endorsements’ insulates the tweeter’s credibility. They weren’t saying Radiohead was showing up, just that Gawker was saying some other people were saying Radiohead was showing up. As the frequent premature ‘Twitter deaths’ illustrate, users don’t collectively require evidence to create a rumour, just a plausible and compelling story. The best tweeters aren’t admired for their reporting skill, but for their ability to speak from a world slightly different to reality, worlds that reveal the injustices, absurdities and contradictions of objective reports. Asking for true tweets is like asking for true paintings. But now the connection between Twitter and less traditional online news outlets is such that a big enough rumour on Twitter is itself news. And with more traditional outlets terrified of losing a good scoop to Gawker, the distance between gossip and fact has never been smaller. Some parts of the Left tend to complain about this as a symptom of our bankrupt media culture, but if we’re to manoeuvre this new terrain, we can’t be moralists about temporary facts. It’s not suitable for the format.
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