I just ran across this article about Twitter reactions on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize surprise award.

Something that is remarkable is that their “people on the street” take on the situation uses actual tweets from folks who were most likely on the Trending Topics list.

At first I thought that was pretty neat. Then I saw this:

While Michael Lipkin in Tehran, Iran, wrote: “If Obama deserves the Noble Peace Prize then so does every Miss America contestant who babbles about world peace.” [emphasis mine]

Now if you remember a few months back, it was the “in thing” to change your location to Tehran, Iran to try to confuse Iranian authorities as to who was actually tweeting from Iran.

Now that a main stream media source is using this location to place sentiments on its official news site, this begs a whole slew of questions about the reliability of the Location field and whether this should be used to tie any particular status update to a specific location. In the case above, most likely Michael Lipkin is not from Iran. 

Taking this a step further, it would be possible to change the global view of a particular place by having a number of users claim they are from that location, then making tweets about a particular topic. For example, what if a group of folks change their location to Mexico and start tweeting about a “revolution” they are watching on the streets? News organizations start to pick this up, report on it, then possibly create a real panic or even a real revolt?

News organizations: please take care not to take the specified location on Twitter or any other social media sites as fact.

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