Saturday, March 24, 2012

Social media as a weapon of mass confusion

Maybe social media can’t become a weapon of mass hysteria, but perhaps it could become a weapon of mass confusion. The BBC points to the source of confusion:

Have you heard? There's been a coup in China! Tanks have been spotted on the streets of Beijing and other cities! Shots were fired near the Communist Party's leadership compound!

OK, before you get too agitated, there is no coup. To be more exact, as far as we know there has been no attempted coup.

To be completely correct we should say we do not know what's going on. The fact is there is no evidence of a coup. But it is a subject that has obsessed many in China this week.

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of reporting on China in the past few days. Coup rumours ricocheted back and forth, most over the internet, but some were picked up by western newspapers. China's microblogs were awash with speculation. Hard facts were non-existent.

In a situation where news is censored, blacked out, or when we are overtaken by events. Fortunately, the last has not happened in China - yet.

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