Speculation and social media

Prompted by some post-trial comments from Norfolk Constabulary regarding this recent murder trial, I was asked to say a few words on BBC Radio Norfolk about rumours, social networking and the like. The interview (conducted by Chris Goreham) is available here – the feature starts at 39 minutes in). The issue raised by the police was that they had particular problems in the investigation after people became aware of the discovery of a body and started to speculate, to the extent that there was confusion between accurate ‘new’ information and the repeating of things seen on the Web. I spoke more generally about the challenges of dealing with information published through social media, how it might differ from how a broadcaster approaches something like contempt (although I should have said that many papers were very naughty during the Joanne Yeates (Bristol) investigation over the New Year), anonymity (or not), and so on. Unfortunately we ran out of time; I would otherwise have added that even from a policing point of view, social media can be an opportunity as well as a threat – see for example the use of Twitter for semi-direct communication with protesters when ‘conventional’ media might not be particularly useful (who is reading tomorrow’s newspaper while marching?). And more broadly, the same system that is used for spreading gossip can also be spreading anti-dictatorship campaigns (as well as the identity of footballers who play away from home).

One single comment

  1. Next thing we know Daithi will be getting a rider for lectures. Naturally the demands will be met ;-)

Leave a Reply