When breaking news happens, Twitter is an excellent medium for passing around information in real time. It’s also, horribly, a great tool to boast and let people know how many others are retweeting your messages as news is breaking.
“My tweet about the NYT reporting that an unexploded device was found in Newton got 20-plus retweets,” Politico‘s Kevin Robillard tweeted Monday night. “My retweet of the Boston Globe knocking it down got zero.”
Robillard had earlier tweeted a link to a NYT story on two bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon. Robillard wrote in his tweet that the report said “a device was found as far away as Newton [Mass.].” The story, as of now, contains no such reference, though a Google search indicates that the original version did (Robillard did not respond to a request for clarification on the matter). He followed up shortly with a retweet of Boston Globe staffer Neil Swidey who said, “It’s not true that one of the unexploded devices was found in Newton,” citing the Newton police captain.
The difference in number of retweets for Robillard’s separate messages led him to lament that the one with more seemingly dire news gained traction while the other went unnoticed. But… as Twitter goes, no one person is the source for anyone’s breaking news no matter how seemingly superb that retweet is. As of Tuesday morning, the original tweet by The Boston Globe‘s Swidey had received 66 retweets.