If you’ve been keeping up with tech news or are active on social media, you’re aware that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter hasn’t been going well.
Personally, I use Twitter quite a bit as a way to keep up with things, as a way to keep an eye on things going on and, I use it for the weather.
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The National Weather Service office in North Little Rock, @NWSLittleRock, has been a steady and active presence when things get story around the state. I also follow @NWSMemphis because it also tracks the weather across the Mid-South and that includes parts of Arkansas.
It has proven invaluable in those times when there's been a streaming show on, say Call the Midwife, and you aren't particularly paying attention as you scroll. Local weather alerts don't cut in on Netflix and suddenly you’re alerted to a tornado warning or thunderstorm warning.
Note: Right after I hit send on this, a tweet from @NWSMemphis popped and said there’s a 24 percent chance of snow in central Arkansas on Saturday, which I did not know.
But I had noticed that both @NWSLittleRock and @NWSMemphis hadn't been as active this week and I also had a conversation with someone about social media wondering about what Musk's version of Twitter meant to everyone who used the platform.
I mean, the Pope's on Twitter. So is the Auschwitz Memorial. Twitter is the best place to find out when Yellowstone National Park expects Old Faithful to go off. And so are lots of other people and news organizations and government agencies and, well you get the idea.
All that led to me waiting for an oil change on Thursday afternoon and with some spare time, I thought why not throw this out into the Twitter void and see what happens?
So I did. And I tagged Taylor Lorenz, who writes for the Washington Post, and Casey Newtown, a tech journalist who has been covering Twitter, along with other social media platforms at the Platformer.
I didn't expect much response.
I also certainly didn't expect the thoughtful and serious conversation that it sparked among some very smart people about what it all means. That conversation is still ongoing and, frankly, a little hard to keep up with.
Suffice to say, there's some real concerns about what happens next with Twitter and how communication pros use that site, as well as other platforms whether they're online, or broadcast or in print.
In the meantime, if you see something on Twitter, verify it first. Check the profile and see when the account was created. Typically, government run accounts have been around for a few years and in the case of @NWSLittleRock, the profile says it was “Joined May 2012.” How many do they follow, how many follow them? Those are some pretty big context clues.
And if you think, why would anyone scam the National Weather Service?
They already are. An account spent the $8 to get verified with a realistic looking @NWSGOV handle and then promptly tweeted things like “the machine that controls the weather is in Norman, Oklahoma” and such.
But will it be funny when a fake account tweets out that there’s an active shooter at a school? Or an evacuation order?
No and no.
Below are a sampling of tweets from Thursday and today.