Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The “backfire effect” is mostly a myth, a broad look at the research suggests
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 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The “backfire effect” is mostly a myth, a broad look at the research suggests
Plus: Instagram is fertile ground for conspiracy theories, Apple gives to media literacy, and a terror attack comes with its own media strategy.
After New Zealand, is it time for Facebook Live to be shut down?
“It’s past time for the company to step up and fulfill the promise founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made two years ago: ‘We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.'”
Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now? “This generation is tired of hearing that this industry requires martyrdom”
“These are professional-class jobs paying working-class wages, and these people have working-class worries about being downsized, laid off, cast aside in a market that is really stripped down.”