Wednesday, 21 January 2009

How a Twitter joke can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on...*

Several interesting things have been happening in the Twitterverse during the course of the day. No, I don't mean the persistent crashing under the sheer weight of tweets about Obama's phenomenal inauguration. I mean the speed with which information - and mis-information - can spread when you're not completely Twitter-savvy and there's a recession knocking at the door.

While @dogstrust was happily gathering daft pictures of business cards, ice scrapers and, erm, lobsters to prove that people really are who they say they are, one busy Twitterer was cracking a joke. In two separate updates, they posted:

Have you heard that Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is going into administration?

They're calling in the Retrievers

Boom boom! Unfortunately, well-meaning supporters quickly copied the first sentence and spread it around their followers, missing the punchline. Seeing a potentially worrying case of Chinese whispers developing, we gave the Battersea communications department and ring, and they confirmed that big name journalists, publications and even their own staff are flooding them with concerned calls and emails.

So, just to make sure the message is completely clear, this is from a member of the Comms team at Battersea:

This is an online joke – Battersea has NOT gone into administration, or called in the RETRIEVERS (a breed of dog!), and has not gone bankCRUFT (the famous dog show!)…

So there you have it!

*borrowed from Terry Pratchett
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