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In a review of news stories from 2018, Shannon McGregor and Logan Molyneux found that, when relying on tweets in a story, journalists “spent precious few words adding context, qualifiers, or modifiers.” They find no evidence that journalists citing tweets in their stories follow up with those sources to verify or otherwise expand upon their comments.

By treating tweets as content instead of sources that need to be interrogated and verified, journalists transfer their authority to Twitter. This conveys a misleading sense of legitimacy to unverified sources and compounds existing problems with the overamplification of certain voices.

“…journalists assume the role of discovery and amplification rather than that of independent verification, which constitutes a significant shift in journalistic values and roles. In many cases, they apparently pass along the tweets as if they were a police report, accepting the author’s words as presented.”

Their findings were published in Information, Communication & Society.

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