Though I spent Thanksgiving on a plane of existence where the concept of “news” just didn’t make sense, I did occasionally check in with my own slice of Twitter, and saw an interesting mashup of I’m-too-stuffed-to-live posts and ongoing Mumbai coverage and commentary. The same loose coalition that supported online repsonses to the Southeast Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina quickly set up “Mumbai Help” to coordinate information, including helpful phone numbers an information about the injured and deceased. CNN has an article about the social media response, noting that “social media sites like Twitter were inundated with a huge volume of messages.” The quote a Twitter user who said “Mumbai is not a city under attack as much as it is a social media experiment in action.” CNN notes a down side to the social media response, noting that “a vast number of the posts on Twitter amounted to unsubstantiated rumors and wild inaccuracies.”
As blogger Tim Mallon put it, “I started to see and (sic) ugly side to Twitter, far from being a crowd-sourced version of the news it was actually an incoherent, rumour-fueled mob operating in a mad echo chamber of tweets, re-tweets and re-re-tweets.
“During the hour or so I followed on Twitter there were wildly differing estimates of the numbers killed and injured – ranging up to 1,000.”
What is clear that although Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted.
In the next paragraph, CNN notes that most tweets “were sourced from mainstream media.”
On the other hand, I see a tweet from Mrinal Wadhwa that says “mainstream Indian media has been absolutely Irresposible during this whole episode.” I suspect that in some locales the best information available was crowdsourced, mostly via Twitter. You can see for yourself – relevant Twitter posts have the #mumbai hashtag and are viewable via Twitter search. (While I wrote that last sentence, there were 18 new posts.)