Stop Pretending You Control Any Information

Recently, there’s been a story tearing up the British tabloids that, for soccer-related reasons, hasn’t gotten much traction in the US press. A very famous British football star has been accused of an affair, and is currently in court as a result of this alleged tryst. The court has issued an injunction against naming the parties involved in the affair (specifically the footballer and his mistress).

The problem is, and folks in the emergency world are just starting to realize this, all you need is one leak and the entire “confidentialness” of the information is shot. One Twitter account has been posting details of the case, including the names of Ryan Griggs and Imogen Thomas. Others in the social media world have been forwarding this information to such a degree that Griggs’ problem has become the secret that everyone knows.

Mashable talks about the contortions the tabloid press is twisting itself into to comply with the order while acknowledging the scoop:

Over the weekend, the Sunday Herald, which is published in Scotland, printed a recognizable photo (above right) of the Manchester United player but did not name him. “Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret. But we weren’t supposed to tell you that…,” reads a caption beneath the photo.

Other outlets are beginning to publish the football star’s name, citing his Wikipedia page, Twitter and, as of this morning, MP John Hemmings as sources.

This issue has huge ramifications, most prominent in my mind is the court-induced impotence of the tabloid industry. It’s not like they don’t have enough problems, now they are the only ones who are forced to play by centuries-old rules. Hastening the end much? The second issue is about ownership of news. Emergency managers and CERC disciples (like myself) continue to cling to this (false) belief that we will be the first communicating about an emergency.

The old saying is that a lie will travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on. Should we change that to an on-the-scene tweet will make it halfway around the world before our vetted and approved half-truth gets its pants on?

One of the most prolific (and valuable) Twitter users I know (@TheFireTracker2) posted last night on this topic:

Citizens ping their personal networks FIRST for reliable info, and to validate official info. Official info isn’t “first” Realtime is.

And even if my intentionally-inflammatory saying doesn’t go viral, the fact remains that no one is THE source for information anymore. The courts and the media will figure it out eventually, let’s hope emergency managers do, too.

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3 thoughts on “Stop Pretending You Control Any Information

  1. I really like someone admitting this. What I would like to see more on is what role EM information can play. Can we be Snopes? Wikipedia? Something other than the nightly news?

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa.I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being the official word.  A bit of snipes, a bit of Wikipedia, but not ever first.

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