COMM011-521 – Blog #2 Things I have discovered about on-line communities

Since I have been sampling social media, I have learned a number of things.  First, it’s important to be aware of the source of any information that you may come across on social media platforms.  As a former journalist, I was trained to always be balanced in my reporting – this rule does not apply in the social media world.

Politicians and political parties are frequent users of Twitter to push an agenda, shape public policy or generate discussion on a particular subject.  Whatever you views are on the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, Justin Trudeau certainly did an effective job of starting a sustained conversation in Canada on this topic recently with a number of SM interventions.

In other cases, SM content might be an outright lie or a hoax.  For some goods examples of this, check out

I recall one wag saying that social media is the talk radio of the Internet – many people engage without any particular knowledge on a subject.  Consumers beware!

Fact checking is often a casualty of the need to communicate quickly.  In the rush to be first, even respectable media outlets have been caught with their pants down – dozens of news organizations  jumped all over a Tweet that originated in Ottawa in 2010 and reported that Gordon Lightfoot had passed away (See  Not true (although many of those who saw him recently at the Ottawa Folkfest might wonder.  But I digress).

It’s important to be critical in assessing SM content to determine its veracity, and to understand what the author’s intent was – to inform, misinform, create public discussion, or that perennial favourite, engage in a little bit of mischief.

Finally, don’t post anything on social media that you don’t want the world to see – even if you just have a handful of friends, as British PM David Cameron’s sister-in-law learned earlier this month (