Don’t believe the rumors: Amanda Bynes is NOT going to Syracuse University

This is a (clearly) Photoshopped picture of former actress Amanda Bynes wearing a Syracuse Orange hat.

This is a (clearly) Photoshopped picture of former actress Amanda Bynes wearing a Syracuse Orange hat, but you Otto know the truth: She’s not coming to SU.


Attention: Amanda Bynes is not enrolling at Syracuse University next semester, despite what a few Twitter users may believe.

It all started with a May 28 article on Yahoo! News by snarky The Atlantic writer Richard Lawson. It was recap of the starlet’s crazy news that week, including threatening to sue the NYPD for allegedly groping her during her arrest over a bong-tossing incident and claiming her many “you’re ugly” tweets were doctored.

Lawson wrote: “The Amanda Bynes saga continues, as it will until its inevitable end. (Meaning when she gets her act together, enrolls in undergrad at Syracuse, and then after graduation moves to Paris to study architecture.)”

It was a joke — but some are taking it seriously. There has been no other mention or report of Bynes considering Syracuse University in her future, except on social media.

In the past four weeks, there have been at least 50 tweets by people who think the former Nickelodeon star will attend SU as an undergraduate student. Most of the posts came this week and, thanks to the telephone game, some believe the rumors are now fact and she’s already enrolled:

  • “Sooooooo Amanda Bynes is going to be enrolled as an undergrad at Syracuse next year ‘if she gets her act together’…..” @MeredithLeigh93 tweeted June 30. This is the first tweet mentioning Bynes and Syracuse, clearly based on Lawson’s article.
  • “AMANDA BYNES IS COMING TO SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY AS A STUDENT,” @kaylafazekas exclaimed Sept. 27.
  • “Bring out the dancing lobstahs everybody, Amanda Bynes is coming to the Syracuse University,” @selflesskid wrote Oct. 1.
  • “amanda bynes wants to get an undergraduate degree at Syracuse University? WUT girl bye,” @OhYeahCHELSEAA added Oct. 21.
  • “Amanda Bynes is enrolling in Syracuse? Is she All That? Or is she being a Big Fat Liar? Regardless, She’s The Man if she does go here,” @Arick_With_An_A joked in a serious of movie/TV title puns on Oct. 23.
  • “Hahaha what Amanda Bynes is enrolling in Syracuse??? Has cuse really lowered their standards THAT much?” @nicolearroyo questioned Oct. 23.
  • “If I don’t get into Syracuse and Amanda Bynes gets to go there I’m going to throw a bitch fit, because that ain’t fair,” prospective student @JackieAkerley griped Oct. 23.
  • “AMANDA BYNES APPLIED TO SYRACUSE THIS IS NOT A DRILL #newbestfriendalert,” @shelleykendall optimistically tweeted Oct. 26.

None of the tweets cited any official sources, save for a few people who linked to the Yahoo/Atlantic article. But the author has a habit of making outrageous throwaway jokes in his celebrity gossip articles. In one post last week, he sarcastically referred to Kim Kardashian as a “former NASA engineer who just left a visiting professorship at Cornell” and hypothesized various reasons for the Jonas Brothers’ canceled tour: “Joe is addicted to dolls — he likes the purple ones. Or Kevin has been having marital problems ever since that strapping fireman moved in next door and won’t stop mowing the lawn while shirtless. Or Nick thinks he killed her, he’s not sure, but whatever happened he’s gotta get this body out of this Days Inn and into a shallow grave somewhere. Problems like that.”

How do I know that Lawson’s Bynes comment can’t be taken seriously? Simple deductions and reading comprehension.

For starters, Bynes is not mentally fit to attend college anywhere. She’s been getting intense treatment in rehab facilities since late July, unable to even contact the public for the past three months. (Her last tweet? July 19: “drake is gorgeous.”) And despite making “great strides” recently, she’s also under her parents’ conservatorship until at least Dec. 17.

Further, Bynes hasn’t expressed much interest in higher education. She got her high school diploma in 2004, but the only quote I could find from her even discussing college (“I’ll play it by ear”) was from a PBS Kids interview when she was about 17 years old. (If you find anything more recent, please share.) She announced she was retiring from acting in 2010 at age 24, and three years later hasn’t done much except downward spiral into tabloid fodder.

And finally, if you read the entire May 28 article, you’d see Lawson later admits he doesn’t know what’s next for Bynes. No one does.

Could the former “The Amanda Show” star eventually go to college at Syracuse University or someplace else? Sure. Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially when it involves a troubled former child star. But don’t hold your breath for her to start wearing Orange gear and braving the winters on the SU Hill.

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8 rules of live-tweeting ‘breaking news’ learned from the Boston bombing story

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a horrifying event in and of itself, is a reminder of how scary the news can be when misinformation spreads. When explosions first happened, talking heads began speculating on the culprits and dozens of outlets misreported facts. As developments continued to unfold, newspapers, TV stations and other reporters made social media almost unbearable to follow as it became impossible to know what to believe. Most notably, The New York Post misidentified suspects (on the front page, no less) and inflated the number of casualties, while CNN and the AP were lambasted for claiming arrests were imminent or had taken place Wednesday before the FBI and Boston Police had even named who they were/are looking for.

1. Being right is more important than being first.
Being wrong once is a thousand times more damaging to a reputation than being second or third to report the news. After CNN and Fox News misreported the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision last year, now everything they say comes with a thought in the back of your mind: “Well, they were wrong before…” Trust takes months or years to earn and minutes to lose.

2. If it’s not your beat, don’t make it your beat.
I’m appalled at sports radio jocks, entertainment reporters and other professionals (especially in cities that aren’t Boston) who suddenly think they need to post a play-by-play on events they don’t normally cover. They’re not going to be reliable sources and their followers/readers/fans who want to hear about playoff games or celebrity gossip are going to be annoyed that they’re getting something else. Feel free to post major/confirmed updates or your own personal reactions but otherwise let the news reporters on the scene do their job.

3. Tweeting like you’re the only one with access to information.
CNN, ABC, AP and CBS News have a combined 15 million followers on Twitter — for starters. Social media users sometimes feel like they must update every human being on earth with every tidbit that gets tweeted, so that even the most casual news consumer feels like they’re being told the same thing all day long.

4. Scanners and dispatch audio are not reliable sources. (Neither are fake Twitter accounts.)
Phony callers, confused authorities on the scene, honest mistakes in the heat of the moment — just because something’s on a police scanner, doesn’t mean it’s true. Slate points out an interesting phenomenon on Friday where false information that Twitter was getting from the scanner was actually false information that the police on the scanner had gotten from Twitter, including updates from fake accounts.

5. Information, whether true or not, can sometimes cost lives.
During a manhunt or a standoff, sharing information about law enforcement locations or maneuvers can tip off the suspects. It’s 2013, so keep in mind they have smartphones and TVs, too. They can see everything that we’re saying about them — and they may thus take action that costs the lives of people who didn’t need to die.

6. “Sources,” “rumors,” “reports” are not the same as “official,” “confirmed,” and “announced.”
Every newspaper, TV station, radio station or news site is aiming to do two things: Inform their audience, and grow their audience. Sometimes to grow their audience (see: make money), they’ll stretch the length of a story or jump on it early with flimsy information. In the case of Boston and the Newtown shootings, “sources” that were incorrect led to false information spreading and innocent people being unfairly accused of crimes.

7. Breaking news that’s already broken.
You woke up at 7 a.m. and you’re just now reading a story that started at midnight? Don’t update everyone on the last seven hours. The world doesn’t revolve around your sleep schedule. That said, major brands still sometimes make the mistake of posting tweets about “breaking news” that a) they didn’t break and b) has been circulating for more than half an hour. When news moves at the speed of social media, breaking news is usually broken within 10 minutes.

8. Twitter is like the “telephone” game.
“Police are looking for a suspect who is wearing a baseball hat” can quickly turn into “Police have arrested a Boston Red Sox fan” if you’re not careful. Especially when limited by 140 characters, details get left out or changed for the sake of brevity. So when you tweet based on another person’s tweeted info, keep in mind they might’ve based theirs on another tweet and so on… consider it the 21st century version of the “telephone” game.

Phil Jackson evaluates Syracuse basketball’s Final Four loss to Michigan on Twitter

Phil Jackson on Twitter

Former NBA coaches Kurt Rambis, left, and Phil Jackson live-tweeted the 2013 Final Four games and offered thoughts on Syracuse basketball. (Photo via @JeanieBuss)


The 2013 NCAA Tournament has come to an end for the Syracuse basketball team after the Michigan Wolverines beat the Orange 61-56 on Saturday night. It marked the end of Jim Boeheim’s fantastic postseason turnaround after an embarrassing 61-39 loss to Georgetown on March 9 — SU went on to the Big East Championship and then defied bracket expectations with a run to the Final Four, and everyone’s looking for answers why Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche and the rest of the Orange aren’t playing Louisville for the championship.

“Zen Master” Phil Jackson, one man who knows about winning, may have the answers. In his first attempt at live-tweeting, the legendary NBA coach shared his thoughts during both Final Four games (the first being between Wichita State and Louisville) while hanging out with former Los Angeles Lakers star Kurt Rambis.

“Don’t know who to pick as fav in this game..opponents must have a good game plan vs @Cuse must have high/low active posts vs the zone AND good shooter and rebounders and Michigan has the shooters,” Jackson wrote in a series of tweets. “Orange people are very quick defensively, but Cardinals and Orange teams met in the Big East finals and played during regular season… vs zones one if it’s a 2-3 zone you must mismatch point gd offense-if it’s a 1-3-1 must use 2 gd front.”

Some more highlights from the 67-year-old basketball guru’s live-tweeting of the Syracuse-Michigan showdown:

  • He didn’t offer NBA scouting reports on other players, but said Syracuse’s Carter-Williams “is a nice looking player-good size, handle, and can shoot from range… I’ve been educated on MCW, but he has the right form and I like his stroke.”
  • On Michigan’s Mitch McGary “Kurt and I laughed at the same time when McGary flinched on that pass @KRambis”
  • SU’s leading scorer C.J. “Fair is more than a Fair shooter…he’s good”
  • On momentum: “mo is on the orange side and it’s going to be a tight one”
  • On the Wolverines in the second half: “Poor shot selection by that yellow team…” and “Two bad plays by Michigan…McGary got up in the air to pass and then that 2 on 1 break-you must pass the ball” and “even if that was their last time out coach Beinlein had to get control of team. OOPs what was that call…?”
  • On UM’s defensive strategy for the last 15 seconds of the game: “Can’t let Orange get a 3 off…foul on the floor, but under 10secs…”
  • After backup guard Trevor Cooney tanked a layup attempt to tie the game: “Well-well it’s over and so am I…thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.”

Jackson, who just joined the social network 10 days ago, is still learning how to share his thoughts in 140 characters or less but has already been verified on Twitter and gained more than 230,000 followers since his first (somewhat nonsensical) post explaining why he’s @PhilJackson11 and not another number: “11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs.” (The former coach of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls has 11 NBA championship rings and, as you might have guessed, @PhilJackson and @Phil_Jackson are already taken by other users on the site.)

“How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher,” he wrote during the Wichita State-Louisville game, explaining the Kansas-based team’s name of the Shockers. “First you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.”

So welcome to Twitter, Mr. Jackson. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on the end of an unforgettable season for Syracuse basketball fans. We’ll see Boeheim back as coach in the ACC next year — and I’ll be back with more lipreading tweets during games. And hopefully we’ll all see Jackson back coaching in the NBA soon.

Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim retiring? How tweeting on the wrong account can really screw things up

Syracuse University's official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim's possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Syracuse University’s official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim’s possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Is Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim retiring? Yes, eventually. Is he retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season? Possibly.

The 68-year-old curmudgeon captain has more than 900 wins, all of them with the Orange(men), and all good things must come to an end eventually. But hopefully this isn’t how it ends.

A tweet posted by @SyracuseU, the official Twitter account for Syracuse University, wrote: “Did I just watch Jim Boeheim’s last game in the Carrier Dome? One source says yes.” It included a link to DYST Now, which stands for Did You See That?! and claims to be “Syracuse’s First All-Sports Newspaper.”

Truthfully, it’s a blog. Written by a college freshman at Onondaga Community College. Whose bio says he’s “been fortunate enough to interview several famous people/players such as famous broadcaster, Bob Costas, the first African American NBA player, Earl Lloyd, NFL player, Chandler Jones, as well as many more professional and collegiate athletes.”

The blog entry that SU’s tweet linked to is filled with similar punctuation and grammar errors. It claims “a source close to DYST Now” told the blogger that Syracuse has asked Boeheim to retire in the wake of another unsubstantiated rumor that Athletics Director Daryl Gross is meeting with the NCAA about violations related to last year’s team. At the end, it promises readers “We’ll have update you more as more of this story comes out.”

In other words, DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

But the fact that @SyracuseU tweeted a link to it threw a can of gasoline on the fire, leading to a report on Deadspin and likely countless other major sports reporting outlets. As Deadspin even notes, “Everything about this is weird, and the @SyracuseU tweet has since been deleted. The DYST Now page is certainly of questionable authority, but why did Syracuse link to it?”

The answer is that Syracuse University, like many other brands, lets students handle the brand’s official account. This is a mistake. A student made a similar mistake for the school when they tweeted about how excited they were to eat some Chick-fil-A over November break on @SyracuseU’s account. Not only is there no Chick-fil-A restaurant within 100 miles of Syracuse, N.Y., the chain also hasn’t been cast in a favorable light public relations-wise recently.

Basically, it happens when social media accounts are shared by multiple users, where people accidentally post stuff they meant to put on their personal account.

As public relations firm Tanner Friedman writes, “This trouble didn’t start at the moment of careless students tweeting. It started because our culture has anointed college students as ‘social media experts.'” Students should not be managing accounts that represent a professional brand, especially one that’s worth millions of dollars.

Of course professionals can make mistakes, too. Professionals are people, and “to err is human.” But when a mistake is made, a professional can correct it quickly and handle the ensuing PR crisis or face the risk of losing their job. If a student mis-tweets, they’re not going to be kicked out of school.

In conclusion, do not worry about Jim Boeheim. He’s leaving eventually, and Syracuse alumni and fans will have to deal with that, but not now. At the very least, the Orange have an NCAA Tournament to worry about first.

And if you need further reassurance, SU spokesman Pete Moore told the Syracuse Post-Standard it’s not true.

Update: A little more than two hours after the Twitter drama started, @SyracuseU posted an official statement: “#OrangeNation: Earlier tonight a tweet was mistakenly sent. Nothing in the tweet was true or accurate and we apologize for the confusion.”

Update No. 2: The gaffe has now become an Associated Press story, and the 19-year-old author of the blog post tells The Post-Standard he’s sticking by his report, claiming his unidentified source also proved to be right about Dion Waiters going pro.

Update No. 3: Some have told me they still believe students should manage the school’s official Twitter account, because they’re students and should be able to learn. My opinion? Let them create an account for a fake brand and learn that way. A brand’s official social media account is, in today’s world, the same as an official spokesperson or public relations director — which are never students. A professional can respond to the mistake faster and minimize the damage before a non-story becomes a story, and be held responsible whereas a student won’t be fired or expelled. And, again, this isn’t the first time this has happened. As TNIAAM points out, a @SyracuseU tweet in 2011 violated NCAA guidelines when they celebrated DaJuan Coleman coming to ‘Cuse before he had signed a letter of intent.

Twitter tips: 10.5 things you’re still doing wrong on social media

Twitter fail

Oops? Some so-called “experts” are still doing social media wrong, so review these Twitter tips to help.

1. Asking questions that you can get answers to elsewhere
I don’t mind if you post a photo of a new hat and ask people if they think it’s a good look for you, but please stop asking questions when you can get the answer elsewhere. “Hey what time is the game on?” “What channel is that show?” “How do you cook grilled cheese?” Use Google, a TV Guide or a calculator and look up answers yourself.

2. Tweeting without context or explanation
“Oh my god.” “What just happened.” “No way.” “I hate this so much.” The worst posts are the short little reactions to something that your followers have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. You may imagine everyone hanging on your every word so they realize that 75 minutes ago you were tweeting about the football game so they should assume you’re still talking about it, but NO ONE FOLLOWS JUST ONE PERSON. (Except @KanyeWest.) As a result, most people see your thoughts in a mix of posts about news, sports, work, music, personal life, food, etc. — so I have no idea if you’re angry about not getting enough ketchup on your burger or that your best friend forgot your birthday or your favorite character kissed the one you hate on a cable TV show. We’re not literally “following” your every move, so don’t assume we are. Add a hashtag or some other clue to what you’re talking about.

3. Tweeting with a . in front of @ mentions — every time
A good number of Twitter users probably don’t realize that if a tweet starts with an @ mention (i.e. “@MileyCyrus I love you!”) then the only ones who’ll see it are users who follow both you and the account you’re mentioning (and, of course, the account you’re mentioning). It brilliantly keeps conversations from cluttering Twitter feeds, but some have figured out that any reply/mention can be made visible to all followers by putting a period or other punctuation in front of the tweet (i.e. “.@MileyCyrus I want everyone to know I love you”). Use it sparingly — never for out-of-context tweets or conversations your followers aren’t part of (i.e. “.@MileyCyrus Your last tweet was great”).

4. Flooding feeds with Twitter chats or live-tweets
Twitter considers 45 tweets an hour to be spam and some people get dangerously close to it during chats or live-tweeting sports, which is understandable if they’re passionate about the topic. But for the sake of followers who aren’t interested, please do two things: 1) Warn people of the impending flood (“Hey I’m about to join a #xyzchat at noon”) or be ready to apologize after. We’ll always forgive it if you don’t act entitled, like we should hang on your every word. And 2) Minimize annoyance by tweeting unique thoughts with context and avoid unnecessary notes (“Next chat Q coming up in a moment”? Just ask the question).

5. Tweeting about trending topics just because they’re trending
Often trending topics are related to news — so don’t ask “why is Snooki trending?” just click on it and you’ll get your answer. Other times, trends are from what’s on TV or a popular user who started it. Don’t respond like the trending topics are talking to you (i.e. “OMG Mean Girls is trending, that reminds me of that time Sheila was mean to me”). Do feel free to join trending hashtag conversations, but don’t hijack them to promote your crap (i.e. “Check out my new photo! [link] #yolo #imsosickof #twitterconfessions #starwars”).

Facebook Thumbs Down

Facebook posts that automatically post to Twitter? Thumbs down!


6. Facebook posts that feed to Twitter, Twitlonger, etc.
It’s not quantum physics: Twitter has a 140 character limit. If you go over 140, whether through Twitlonger or another service that feeds to Twitter, then people have to click to see what else you said — it’s annoying. Also, keep in mind that if you feed Facebook to Twitter and you post a link on Facebook, your Twitter followers have to click the link to see the Facebook post before they can click the link you want them to — twice the clicks.

7. Inconsistent voice
Dear “community managers” and “brand ambassadors”: If the account represents a business with more than one person, the voice is always “we,” never “I.” Opinions should not be given, unless it’s about the brand (“We think our new thing is amazing!”) or a strong affiliate (“Pepsi thinks Beyoncé is going to rock #SB47!”). And hashtags should be consistent — stick to one tag for the brand and its customers to follow.

7.5. Accidentally posting personal tweets on professional accounts
To err is human, so sometimes you’ll “accidentally” post on the wrong Twitter account. If that happens, delete the tweet, apologize and move on — do not spend the rest of the day/week addressing or explaining the error and, most importantly, do not chastise followers upset by your mistake. It’s your mistake.

8. Hyperbole
How many concerts have you been to that are truly “epic”? Is this really “the worst” restaurant experience you’ve ever had? Opinions make things more interesting on social media (and in real life), so we want to know what movies you liked or hated but curb your enthusiasm when referring to extremes. I expect a 4-year-old to have a new “favorite” toy three times a day, but when you tweet “that was my favorite episode ever of all time” three times a week we assume you’re the least discerning person. Of all time.

9. When breaking news becomes “the telephone game”
Rumors quickly became fact on social media, and false news can spread because you’re tweeting based on what someone tweeted based on what someone else tweeted, etc. Being correct is more important than being first, so check sources and post updates based on credible information.

10. Calling yourself a “guru,” “ninja” or “master”
Adage found that, as of January 2013, more than 181,000 Twitter bios describe themselves as social media gurus, masters, ninjas or mavens. Stop it. How can you master something that’s barely a decade old and is constantly evolving?

The power of social media: How one tweet to 1,500 followers can quickly spread to 7 million people

Tweet by @DeafGeoff

One tweet by @DeafGeoff, sent to 1,532 followers, was retweeted 4091 times and viewed by as many as seven million Twitter users.

April 20th is a day filled with lots of negative history — Adolf Hitler was born on the date in 1889; 19 men, women, and children died in the Ludlow Massacre during a 1914 Colorado coal-miners’ strike; Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 (mostly students) and injured 24 more before committing suicide at Columbine High School in 1999; and two years ago BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 and starting an oil spill lasting six months.

The only “holiday” that exists on 4/20 is an informal celebration of marijuana. The significance of 420 to pot-smokers is filled with myths about its origin (FYI, 420 is not a police code used for the drug) but most believe it started with California teenagers who met at 4:20 p.m. to find weed. Today, thousands of cannabis enthusiasts use April 20th to celebrate, smoke and (sometimes) hold political events calling for the legalization of non-medicinal marijuana.

With all of the above in mind on Friday, April 20, 2012, at 6:29 a.m. EST, I tweeted “I judge anyone who tweets ‘Happy 420’ today. It’s Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.” At the time, I had 1,532 followers on Twitter and slightly fewer Facebook friends.

When I posted it, “Happy 420” may have been trending, but the rest of the topics on Twitter were a hodgepodge of hashtags, news and Justin Bieber (though “Hitler’s birthday” and “Columbine” trended hours later). But my brief complaint about the glorification of a day that’s filled with tragedy, somehow, went viral. 24 hours later, my post was retweeted 4,091 times, copy/pasted by several hundred more, and responded to — angrily — by many who disagreed with me.

I assume the retweets mean those people agreed with me, and it was also favorited by 100+ users and I picked up about 85 new Twitter followers over the course of the day, too. I compared 20 at random, saw their numbers of followers and calculated they had an average of 1,724 followers each. (One person in the sample had 30,400 followers.) 1,724 times 4,091 is more than seven million, which means that my one tweet sent had been seen by as many as 7 million people in just one day, across several countries.

It’s an amazing example of how a small audience can quickly grow on the Internet thanks to the power of social media. Working in radio for a decade, one thing I learned is that more fans means more people who hate you. A musician with five million fans always has way more enemies than an independent filmmaker with five hundred fans, and that’s just a simple fact of life — you’re never going to please everyone.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received to my tweet:

  • “It’s not Hitler’s birthday” Yes, it is.
  • “All the more reason to toke up.” I’m sure that’s comforting to Jewish families with friends and relatives persecuted in the Holocaust, or to the parents of 12 children in Littleton, Colorado.
  • “Every day is filled with tragedy.” Yes, it is, but I would never say “Happy 8/6” because it sounds like you’re celebrating the day Hiroshima was bombed. I’ll wish someone a “Merry Christmas” because that’s an actual holiday, whereas “420” is not — it’s just a date, filled with more tragedy than most dates.
  • “Happy 420! LOL” Cute.
  • “4/20 is the day my ex proposed to me.”
  • “It’s Bob Marley’s birthday.” No, it’s not. Robert Nesta Marley was born Feb. 6, 1945 and died May 11, 1981.
  • “I wish you could hear yourself” and other disparaging remarks about my hearing loss were made, since my Twitter handle is @deafgeoff and I’m 90% deaf.
  • “Only God can judge me.” So can a court justice, Randy Jackson on “American Idol,” and anyone who’s ever had an opinion.
  • “It’s Earth Day” No, it’s not. Earth Day is April 22.
  • “Your dumb.” “Your retarded.” No response necessary.
  • I also got called “buzz kill,” “bitch,” “idiot,” “stupid,” “dumbass,” “Debbie Downer,” “amature” (I assume they meant “immature”) and a “morose maaffacka.”
  • “It’s my birthday.” It’s also the birthday of George Takei, Carmen Electra, Luther Vandross, Crispin Glover and Joey “Whoa!” Lawrence. I’m not arguing that people born on 4/20 shouldn’t celebrate their birth — if you say “Happy birthday Mr. Sulu!” I would never object. But “Happy 420” is an inappropriate sentiment because it means you’re celebrating the date itself, not an actual holiday.
  • “#UR2OLD4TWITTER” The average age of a Twitter user is 39 — I’m 28 years old. And that has nothing to do with anything.

I didn’t respond to these messages on Twitter, partly because they were coming in faster than I could, but mostly because there was no point in arguing with strangers who disagreed with me even if only to correct their grammar (or facts). I’m not begrudging people who partake in recreational drugs, either. I may have been overly harsh when I said “I judge,” but I just want real events to be respected, and not ignored at the expense of stoner glorification.

Titanic 100th anniversary: If the Titanic sank today, how would the news break on social media?

Titanic's Passengers All Rescued -- The Syracuse Herald

100 years ago, the Syracuse Herald and many other newspapers around the world mistakenly printed reports that all the RMS Titanic's passengers had been saved. In reality, 1,514 people died when the 'unsinkable' ship hit an iceberg and there were far less lifeboats than could hold its 2,223 passengers.

“Breaking News” and “Newsflash” are almost completely outdated terms in the world of social media, yet “old media” like newspapers, television and radio stations, still use them. They’ll even use the term when someone else has broken the news and it’s all over Twitter and Facebook, hours earlier. Sometimes it’s a result of which sources have the better credibility or a bigger audience — if the Pleasantville Daily News “breaks” something to its 98 followers, then it’s fair to say CNN is actually breaking the news to most people when they pick up the story.

Ultimately, though, the desire to be FIRST! in breaking a story is no longer just a traditional media problem. Even Joe Schmo can “break” a story to his 254 Tumblr subscribers if he posts it early enough, which is why news breaks today on the Internet in confusing yet fascinating ways.

On the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s sinking, I wonder how the news on April 15, 1912, would have been covered on social media.

Here’s a few possible tweets that could’ve occurred:

  • @FanOfSeaStuff: “Just heard over the radio that the Titanic hit something.”
  • @RoseDawson: “I could not be any happier than where I am right now.” (Sent using the ship’s wi-fi before the rising water took it out.)
  • @NewsGuy04121912: “Reports coming in that the Titanic has hit something — could be an iceberg or a whale — but all passengers are okay.”
  • @KateWinsletFan: “Don’t believe the reports the Titanic hit anything. Just look: RT @RoseDawson I could not be any happier than where I am right now.”
  • @CNNBRK: “BREAKING NEWS: RMS Titanic has hit a large object, believed to be an iceberg, and is taking on water.” (retweeted 1087 times)
  • @DudeNamedDude: “I heard from @NewsGuy0412912 that a whale hit the Titanic. Bet he’s looking to make a nice snack out of some passengers.”
  • @FoxNews: “NEWSFLASH: The ‘unsinkable’ ship RMS Titanic is sinking on the Atlantic; passengers being taken to lifeboats.”
  • @NYTimes: “White Star Line confirms the Titanic ocean liner has been hit by an iceberg and boats are headed to rescue its passengers.”
  • @HersheyChocoholic: “Tweeps, don’t worry about the Titanic — @FoxNews says passengers are being taken to lifeboats.”
  • @TMZ: “Inside sources tell us someone yelled ‘women and children first!’ as the Titanic began rescuing passengers.”
  • @ReporterGuy: “Coast Guard reporting Titanic ship is slowly sinking as passengers fill the lifeboats.”
  • @MotionPictureGirl: “Someday this’ll be a movie, and they’ll probably make the Titanic sinking WAAAY more dramatic with cheesy music.”

Eventually, the true story would emerge, but as the news breaks there’s all sorts of conflicting opinions and reactions that confuse the world wide web. Even before social media, inaccurate reports happened all the time. The Syracuse Herald newspaper first ran a front page headline that said “Titanic’s Passengers All Rescued” with a dramatic telling of how they were all taken to lifeboats.

Apparently, what happened was: A wireless message went out stating ‘All Titanic’s Passengers Safe.’ A week later it was discovered that this message had been wrongly received in the confusion of messages flashing through the air. In reality the message should have read ‘Are All Titanic’s Passengers Safe?'” Can you imagine THAT going viral on social media? Reporters would lose their jobs and Mashable readers would lose their minds (because Mashable would’ve written a story about it, too, in an effort to get SEO traffic even though they claim they focus only on web/technology news).

While many of us (including Titanic director James Cameron) are shocked that some audiences are just now finding out that Titanic was real and not just a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, can you imagine if the Titanic sank today how it would be covered on social media? Ponder that the next time you see “Breaking News” somewhere on the Internet, and think before you tweet.