I have said and written often how much I like Twitter for gathering information: it all comes to one place and I can tailor it (follow / unfollow) however I want. Sure, it can be hard to tame at times but I’m working on that.

Last night, though, I had my first experience of what I will call being Twittered (the pun with titter fully intended), which is the acceptance of false information (or the imposition of assumptions on true information whose truth becomes obscured because of those assumptions) because of the inevitable lack of context that 140 characters imposes.

As you all likely know, yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Boston (near which I live and work, though more the latter than the former) was abuzz with Marathon commemorations (and I did love Diane Williamson’s column here), both official and unofficial. So last night, when Twitter started buzzing with news of backpacks at the finish lines and detonations, I assumed (because I had no information to say otherwise) that this was some sort of commemoration, albeit somewhat morbid and eerie: perhaps newscasters were retweeting what they tweeted last year, or somehow recreating the day’s event as part of a more formal commemoration.

I find out this morning, of course, that in fact there were actual bags left at the marathon site last night and there was an actual (albeit precautionary) detonation. But with only 140 characters to go on, and no sense of what was actually happening beyond those 140 characters, plus the added context of the 1 year anniversary, it didn’t even occur to me that this could actually be happening.

So a cautionary Twitter tale. No one got hurt but an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.

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