Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
“Checking Twitter…while being rushed into a bunker”: Considering fake news and nuclear war
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 1, 2017, 9:38 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: twitter.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   November 1, 2017

During Tuesday’s terror attacks in Lower Manhattan, in which a driver in a pickup truck killed eight people and injured 11, Snap Maps, the location-sharing feature that Snapchat introduced this summer, proved to be an effective way to get real-time information on what was happening.

Tuesday wasn’t the first tragedy in which Snap Maps proved a reliable source of information. Quartz’s Mike Murphy wrote last month about the tool’s role in covering the Las Vegas shootings, hurricanes in the U.S. and Mexico, and the Mexico City earthquake — and why it can be more useful and more intimate than coverage of breaking events on Facebook and Twitter.

People opening Periscope or Twitter are expecting to broadcast their stories, whereas on Snapchat, you’re assuming only a few people might ever see whatever you post, unless something profound happens. And popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook are great for firing off quick messages or images, but there’s no easy way for a user to check everything that’s happening in an area, unless they follow specific hashtags, or know how to perform advanced searches. On Snapchat, you open the app, pinch in to see the map, and point to the part of the world you want to see.

As a result, for those who use it, Snap Maps has become a deeply intimate way to view major news events in real time.

Snapchat’s algorithm decides what makes it onto the public map: “We have automated systems that decide what makes it onto the Map, based on a bunch of factors — like when and where a Snap was taken, if an event seems to be happening nearby, etc.”

There are, of course, some annoying and jarring things about following a serious event in this way (the stickers! the emoji! is that the crying laughing emoji?).

But watching event coverage on, say, cable news certainly exposes one to inane commentary as well, and at least this is immediate — and also authentic (at least for now).

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
“Checking Twitter…while being rushed into a bunker”: Considering fake news and nuclear war
Plus: The EU is surveying its citizens on fake news; what CrossCheck learned in France; the upcoming Disinformation Action Lab.
Can Canada build its own independent podcast industry in the True North strong and free?
Plus: Everybody’s suddenly making podcasts for kids, a show reveals itself as part-fiction in its grand finale, and mixing podcasts and dating apps.
Here are three tools that help digital journalists save their work in case a site shuts down
“So many people who work professionally on the Internet really don’t know, until too late, that their work is this fragile.”