Trusting Tweets

Even before all the articles appeared about Twitter bots and fake news, I always felt slightly irritated when reading articles that featured a bunch of tweets from other people, most of whom were unfamiliar to me with their cryptic twitter handles and abbreviated messages. I used to wonder, why were the tweets part of the article? Were they there to support the author’s message?

I read the news to learn what’s going on in the world. Unless I’m reading an Op-Ed column, I don’t expect to be reading somebody’s opinion. If I want to see readers’ reactions to a piece, I check out the comments section, or maybe social media. So I feel annoyed when I see screencaps, or links, to tweets in news articles that seem to only be there for opinion or commentary purposes. The exception is when the tweet content is being reported on directly (e.g., the president’s tweets).

You will always find somebody on the internet who agrees with you. It’s not difficult to find, but that doesn’t mean it’s based on anything accurate or factual.

For example, in a recent article from CBC news titled, “‘They’re trolling the trolls back’: How Parkland survivors are responding to conspiracy theorists,”(read here) the first tweet displayed is from somebody named Mike (@mike_Zollo). I understand the article is about trolls and that the Zollo tweet is likely there to emphasize a point the author is trying to make, but at the same time, I’m wondering why would any reputable news source post or repeat something from someone whose credentials are so dubious. Who is this person? And what makes his Tweet a significant “troll” tweet?

According to his twitter profile, he is “America, politics, & TRUMP. Trumps [sic] biggest supporter. I destroy liberals. Trump is my President & hes [sic] yours to for the next 8yrs. WE’RE TAKING OUR COUNTRY BACK.” How can we even know there is a legitimate person behind this Tweet?  Maybe he’s a bot. And yet his message has become woven into the reporting of the article. Are tweets now being used instead of getting quotes from a person directly?

Later in the article, the author posts another tweet from a TV & Radio Host sharing an article from the Wall Street Journal. So why not just share a link to the WSJ article directly instead of sharing it through a tweet from somebody else’s twitter feed?

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