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How Credible Are Blogs?

By November 3, 20083 Comments

For all those who have been against the very idea of censorship of blogs, here is something to be carefully considered. In the last one month, Apple stock prices have suffered a set back, twice. The reason – a lie written on a blog – both times.

In the first incident, a blogger reported that Apple was launching a laptop for just $800. This was a lie, of course, but was inadvertently repeated by the New York Times, giving far too much credibility to that lie.

What one blogger wrote may not have carried much weight by itself, but something written in a reputable publication such as the New York Times, which has a huge circulation, was read by a very large number of people and also believed to be true.

Given the present market conditions, most readers thought of this as a very good offer, and rushed to buy this new laptop. This initially raised the price of Apple’s stock, but when the truth came to light, the prices dropped sharply.

Only two weeks later, a young 18 year old blogger reported that Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, had suffered a heart attack. This not-so-innocent lie was again unwittingly repeated by Henry Blodget on the CNN website and soon Apple stock holders were running for cover, thus causing another dip in the stock prices.

An investigation is being conducted, to see if the blogger was trying to make some money by manipulating the stock prices. So far no evidence has been found to prove it. While those in favour of non-censorship of blogs, have so far maintained that blogging is a harmless activity, and allows one to express ones thoughts and feelings without interference, these incidents will force free speech proponents to look at another aspect to blogging, wherein lies can be intentionally spread and eventually cause untold harm.

The more important lesson, though, should be learned by so-called “journalists” at the major news channels who print any random gossip without even investigating how true it is.

3 Comments

  • The problem you highlight is nothing to do with blogs. People have started rumours, said the wrong things, or even blatantly lied well before the invention of blogging. They told friends in bars their stories, or circulated rumours via Memos at work. Rumours, lies and deceit have been part of human history since the invention of language.

    The problem is poor journalism. In the past, the media checked the information they were given for its truthfulness. Nowadays, sloppy journalism means that anything that is written is assumed to have been previously checked and is therefore OK to use. Not true.

    Blogs are nothing more than conversations and should be treated as such by journalists. Blogs are not a replacement for journalistic research – yet they often appear to be used in this way by reporters in a hurry.

  • AccuraCast says:

    @Graham: Very true. The final point in the post says just that – poor journalism is at fault – but you have spelt it out much better.