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What You Can Learn From the Boston Bombing Social-Media Circus

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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

After explosive devices detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three and injuring 180 people, social media sites including Twitter erupted -- but not always with trustworthy information. Several top news organizations came under fire for reporting information despite conflicting reports of what was unfolding. For business owners who often share or comment on breaking news over social media, it was easy to wind up sharing faulty information. And some brands ran afoul of consumer rage when their marketing efforts -- many running on automated programs -- were issued amid the chaos.

The confusion continued as the week went on. By Thursday, the FBI reprimanded users of sites like reddit for conducting their own digital manhunt for the Boston bombers. Similarly, local Boston police asked journalists on Friday to stop live-tweeting police actions and scanner traffic in order to preserve the safety of officers and the effectiveness of their manhunt.

Given the immediacy of how news is spread over social media, and the potential for sharing incorrect information, business owners should avoid sending scheduled marketing messages and commenting on moment-by-moment updates during sensitive breaking news events. For brands, a more effective use of social media could be to share links to positive and constructive services. In this case, examples might have included Google's Person Finder tool or, a way for people to send their photos and videos from the marathon directly to the FBI. -- PRDaily, ReadWrite, Daily Dot and Mashable

Twitter Music officially launches.

Twitter's much-rumored music service helps users discover new music that was previously under their radar. "Most of Twitter Music feels like just another Spotify, or just another," writes the Wall Street Journal's Matthew Lynley, noting that heavy music listeners probably already have profiles on other music-discovery services, and may not want to duplicate them. On the other hand, Lynley says, the emerging artists section of Twitter "shows exactly how powerful Twitter's data set can be at surfacing relevant music to even the most well-equipped music fanatics." -- The Wall Street Journal

Medium acquires long-form publishing platform MATTER.

Publishing startup Medium has joined forces with MATTER, an innovative platform for long-form journalism on science, technology and the future. Launched last October by Twitter and Blogger co-founder Evan Williams, Medium is an invite-only service that aims to be a new kind of home for thoughtful reading and writing. MATTER raised $140,000 on Kickstarter early last year to launch a site that promotes quality, in-depth journalism through subscriptions and individual article sales. "Experimenting with tweaks to the model and the way we distribute our content will be a vital way of making MATTER robust in the long term," MATTER said in an announcement. -- Mashable

Twitter creates a new position: data editor.

Twitter has hired Simon Rogers away from British newspaper The Guardian to be its first data editor. Rogers is a 15-year veteran of The Guardian and editor of its Datablog, which he created in 2009. "Twitter has become such an important element in the way we work as journalists," Rogers said on his personal blog. "As data editor, I'll be helping to explain how this phenomenon works." -- AllTwitter

Gotcha! Social media popularity doesn't equal credibility.

Kevin Ashton, a manager at electronics firm Belkin and a former entrepreneur, created a persuasive online identity for an imaginary digital-culture guru named Santiago Swallow. The fake expert's online presence included a website, a Wikipedia page and a seemingly verified Twitter account with 80,000 followers. Ashton's explanation of how and why he did it makes for a fascinating read. He used the experiment as a springboard for outing self-proclaimed experts and bestselling authors whose online followings are mostly fake. -- Quartz

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