You may have forgotten this. In April 2013, a hacker broke into the Twitter account of the Associated Press and sent out a tweet about “explosions at the White House.”
Reuters noted then that the Twitter ‘report’ caused the S&P 500 index to fall, wiping out $136.5 billion of its value.
We didn’t call it fake news then – just a bad prank. It demonstrated the power of ‘news’ that the world was beginning to consume in 140 characters or fewer.
Today, the ‘hacks’ and pranks seem to come from both outside (fake news perpetrators) and within establishments. They’re still using short-form journalism, which is easily spread by headline-hungry readers.
Trump tweets (a busy search term, for sure) have become worthy of analysis at the highest levels, and not just in the media. As Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum notes, these tweets “…are not for you. They are not for the press. They are not for Congress. They are for his fans.”
Meaning, I suppose, ignore them.
One group not ignoring them, and busily documenting them, must be journalism students. They must be relishing the fact that somewhere in this is ‘Twitter torture’ is a real-time study leading to a Masters dissertation. There have been similar dissertations on the rhetorical analysis of campaign tweets. But what began on 20th January is a treasure chest.