News of a celebrity's death can now spread across Twitter before the family's informed. That doesn't mean it should.
Philip Seymour Hoffman died yesterday. This was the first and only thing we were told. Arguably, we were told too soon. The news came via a tweetfrom the Wall Street Journal, preceded by that all-too-familiar word, “Breaking.”
But aside from the text of the tweet itself, there was no additional reporting to verify the announcement. That would come approximately 17 minutes later. In the interim, the news went viral. Online publications were willing to believe the Wall Street Journal before it posted a news brief to corroborate its tweet, but prefaced its own writeups and retweets with disclaimers like, “no confirmation yet, but …”
Readers were also reticent as they sent the news further into the world, asking, “Is anyone else reporting this?” Some expressed their hopes that the news was a hoax....