by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The first take on the big weekend story turned out to be false. …
… Unfortunately, by the time the truth had emerged about four hours later, an international hate storm had blown up around the young students that swallowed them, their school, and their parents alive. Death threats abounded — their school had to close for security reasons the following Monday — and the reputations of the students and school seemed irreparably damaged. …
… [I]n this case it’s not easy to know what to do. The whole “charm” of Twitter such as it is is that it features instantaneous feelings and thoughts in the moment, so an indefinite time delay for either fact-checking or more information would defeat the whole point of the thing.
Should a one-hour delay be imposed on all postings? Two hours? Four? Should fines be imposed for non-checking of sources? Should they be higher for malice, or for a mistake? If this all sounds like too much for Twitter to handle, it probably means that it is, so the solution may be to go to the other end of the handle and focus on trying to dis-incentivize tweeters from tweeting out postings that they aren’t wholly certain are true.
The parents of 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann, the poster boy for the group, took the first step when they hired a piranha-like lawyer, whose first move was to tell the celebrity tweeters who hadn’t recanted to do so before Friday or face a series of punitive lawsuits that will leave them all stripped to the bone.