The impact of real-time rumours

False Tweet

Yesterday, hackers broke into the Associated Press (AP) Twitter account and posted a false message about explosions at the White House. The image above shows the Wall Street reaction. What’s particularly interesting, showing the interdependencies between systems, is that some of the trading activity resulted from automated algorithms possibly making the reaction worse than it otherwise would have been. This follows closely on the heels of a Reddit story going viral on Twitter wrongly identifying possible suspects in last week’s terrible bombing of the Boston Marathon. One of those wrongly identified is still missing…

Today, Twitter has implemented two-factor authentication to tighten up security.

These incidents should not deter people from looking to real-time social media channels such as Twitter for information. But they do highlight the growing importance of critical thinking and reflection before reacting. Because reactions bring with them consequences.


The value in gossip at work


I watched a fascinating TEDx talk this weekend and have embedded it below to share. If you’re not enthralled at the start, I encourage you to stick with it. It leads to the conclusion:

Celebrity gossip is the conversation that exposes who we are… a reflection of modern human behaviour and culture. In observing the changing nature of standards and morality, gossip is the play-by-play of our social evolution

We often see nicknames for forums and comments sections of web sites such as ‘the water cooler’ or ‘chatter box’. But we kid ourselves if we think they are true replacements for the real thing. And gossip can be such a powerful mechanism for collaborative working. Many people have been criticising Marissa Meyer over the past week for the announcement that all Yahoo employees must now work at offices and not from home apart from exceptional circumstances. Whilst I think that is too strict an approach and there are big benefits working from home in terms of individual productivity, I do feel that organisations often under-value the benefits of informal collaboration through hall-way meetings and unplanned disruptions that tend to occur in close proximity rather than over long or digital distances.

Here’s the video. Make a brew and set aside 20 minutes for a very different TED talk

[ba-youtubeflex videoid=”oFDWOXV6iEM”]