News Column

Bogus Report Sets Twitter Abuzz Before Elizabeth Warren Win

November 7, 2012

Jessica Van Sack

Bogus reports that NBC made a daringly early call in the Bay State Senate race swept the Twitterverse last night, forcing the network's anchor Brian Williams to set the record straight -- and showing how misinformation can spread like wildfire in social media circles.

"There's a rogue retweet going around that we have somehow called the Massachusetts Senate race.. we have not," NBC News tweeted, quoting Williams.

Liberal blogger Dan Kennedy tweeted that Warren had been declared the winner by NBC, saying in part, "That's the likely result, but man, what an early call." He later posted a screen grab of an NBC election website to illustrate his point, but he had misread the site.

It was unclear how the rumor started, but Boston Phoenix executive editor Peter Kadzis and the left-wing blog ThinkProgress passed along the faux Warren call rumor. And while NBC did eventually call the race for Warren, the episode shows the peril of relying on unsourced tweets.

Tweeted Kadzis after he realized his mistake: "Okay, Rachel Maddow just declared Warren the winner. Heard it myself. I'm not on crack."

For all that, social media played an unprecedented role in the national vote, with candidates pushing for turnout on Twitter, and Facebook featuring a real-time voting map documenting millions of users who cast ballots.

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Source: (c) 2012 the Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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