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December 18, 2014

Will Journalists Sharing Misinformation on Twitter Correct?

We get it. It's really, really easy to share someone else's Twitter posts — just a quick copy and paste, or a click on the retweet button. One imagines it's even easier to share if the post in question refers to Israeli violence and if you're a journalist with "unnecessary buttons" and a "distaste for Israel," as Matti Friedman put it.

Admitting an error, on the other hand, is not always the easiest thing to do. But journalists have responsibilities, not least among them a responsibility to correct after inadvertently misinforming their audience.

When Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos, in a failed attempt at fact-checking, stated that a heart-wrenching photo of a small, bloody shoe circulating on Twitter was from Gaza and not, as many had claimed, from a recent attack in Pakistan, he simply replaced one error with another. Despite the implication that what was pictured was evidence of a Palestinian casualty at the hands of Israel, the photo was actually of an Israeli girl's shoe, taken after she was injured in a Palestinian rocket attack on the Israeli city Ashkelon.

And as CAMERA-affiliate BBC Watch pointed out, his inaccurate tweet was shared by BBC journalist Rana Jawad, retweeted to her nearly 16,000 followers.

rana jawad false retweet.jpg

She wasn't the only reporter to misinform readers with Doornbos's tweet. So did France 24's Julien Pain.

And so did Rena Netjes of the Dutch radio station BNR.

rena netjes false tweet.jpg

Mistakes happen. And mistakes left all four journalists (and perhaps others) in a position to demonstrate their adherence to journalistic norms calling for in accuracy and clear, forthright corrections when needed. So what did they do?

As of this writing, Doornbos, the originator of the misinformation, faded away as commenters under his tweet pointed out the actual source of the photo. He never informed to his 40,000 Twitter followers that the information he had shared was inaccurate, nor even deleted his tweet.

Jawad and Pain, both of whom were notified of the error they shared, have not yet updated their readers. (Though neither appears to have posted on Twitter since being notified, so the possibility remains that they haven't yet seen the corrective information.

After CAMERA informed her of the misinformation, Netjes strangely replied that it was CAMERA that got it wrong:

A CAMERA researcher asked for clarification, and documented that she did indeed share the inaccurate information:

Netjes replied that she did share a link to the BBC story explaining the origins of the photo.

But it appears from an examination of her Twitter timeline that the only place she linked to the BBC story was in her tweet claiming CAMERA got it wrong — which would mean we got it right, and more importantly, would mean that she has never informed all her readers of the false information she had passed on to them earlier.

So far, not so good. But fortunately it's never too late to clear the record. Will the four journalists do the right thing and broadcast a clear correction to all of their readers?

Posted by GI at December 18, 2014 04:14 PM


Please note that Mister Harald Doornbos does not only refuse to delete/correct Tweet.
He is now telling lies (in Dutch) that he "deleted" tweet.

A very peculiar approach by him again as his tweet is NOT deleted.

Posted by: On Elpeleg at December 18, 2014 06:59 PM

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