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Twitter Can't Curb Rampant Misinformation, Yet

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While the Internet is still the best place to find 100% accurate information, occasionally a mistake or two does slip in there. And while correcting them on a site like Facebook (FB) or Google+ (GOOG) isn't a huge deal, in the case of something like Twitter, where one wrong tweet can be instantaneously retweeted an infinite amount of times, putting the genie back in can be next to impossible.

GigaOM asks: Is it time for Twitter to have a correction button?

Currently, the only way to correct a tweet is to delete the old one and post a new, more accurate one. This is not entirely helpful as the wrong one can still be bouncing around the net, wreaking chaos wherever it’s retweeted.

Sometimes, the misinformation can be quite serious. For instance, when Gabby Giffords was shot but not killed last year in Arizona, after a few erroneous tweets were posted by several mainstream news sources, false reports of her death spread quickly around the web. Other well-known personalities, such a Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot and former Apple (AAPL) chief Steve Jobs (before he actually did succomb to cancer last October), found themselves in the always awkward situation of declaring reports of their deaths greatly exaggerated.

The problem, GigaOM argues, is based on the same reason that Twitter is referred to as a “stream.” With the continuous flow of information posted, “you can’t step into it at the same place twice.” That’s why just updating one of your posts doesn’t solve the problem. So what does?

Information Architects digital designer Oliver Reichenstein believes he’s come up with a solution, one that uses the line thingy strikethrough feature on the rotten tweets.

His idea, which he mocked up on iA’s blog, would have the incorrect tweet marked out, but not deleting it. Not only does this make it clear to everyone that a mistake had been made, but it also doesn’t feel like you were trying to cover it up or pull a fast one on the Internet. It could be Twitter’s way of elegantly saying the two greatest words spoken to you by a loved one: “My bad.”

But don’t expect these, or any other changes, coming anytime soon. Twitter designer Doug Bowman said a feature like this would just “add complexity,” among raising many other concerns, and is at this time not worth the amount of time and resources implementing something like this would take.

So for now on, before you believe anything you read on Twitter, be sure it double check it on Wikipedia first.
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