How do we judge truth in the Twitter age?

Massive messaging markets (3M?) are changing the game in news reporting. The generation of news is already a distributed and complex interweaving of parsed and recombined news streams – we can expect that to only grow and take on new forms. It will be staccato and rapid fire.

Living in what is arguably the most focused-on city in the world, I am well acquainted with how even reputable news outlets routinely slant their stories.  With tens of millions of news providers, all of whom adjust and filter what they report consciously or sub-consciously, how will we judge what is true?  How do we judge truth in the Twitter age?

Instinctively, we judge the reality of a message by how distributed and consistent the corroboration is from multiple sources.  This already is, and will continue to be, gamed by groups with targeted agendas.  Any group with a semblance of organization is busy flooding relevant forums with their message.

When the same message comes from varied quarters – people from many different backgrounds – it starts to earn believability.  But this too can be gamed. 

‘Witnessing’ has a certain power and weight – one who claims to have seen an event with their own eyes.  Yet, the claim is easy, how do I know it’s true?

A rare, but convincing, argument for the truth of a story is when it is propagated by someone with an explicitly contrary agenda – a story which is injurious to the teller. To even come to this evaluation, though, I need to be acquainted with the teller’s true leanings.

So tell me, how do you know when what you read is true?

One thought on “How do we judge truth in the Twitter age?

  1. Leaving all philosophical answers and approaching this question as a news consumer, I would have to say it doesn’t really matter where the news is coming from, I’m highly suspicious. The events always have to be carefully sifted out from the interpretation. And even there one has to be wary of partial (not whole) reports that give a skewed perspective. Let’s just say I consume very salty news.

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