On Friday, February 13th (my lovely wife’s birthday, by the way), Twitter announced $35 million in new funding. The Bloomberg reporter covering the story issued a news brief based on the announcement and an interview he conducted with one of the VCs. In his write-up, he included a statistic on the number of daily Twitter users, pegging it at 55 million, based on his interpretation of some vague numerical equivalencies given to him by the VC spokesperson.
SocialSphere’s own John Della Volpe was the first I saw to pick up on the error. On Sunday the 15th, he issued a challenge to back up this number, citing the Bloomberg story, the already-updated Wikipedia entry, and the statistic’s already rapid dissemination (it had already begun to appear in SlideShare presentations).
Monday morning, after reading John’s post, I decided to email the reporter in question, who was extremely professional, thorough and responsive throughout the process. After about a day’s deliberation (which is documented partially in the comments section of John’s blog entry, partially on the Wikipedia Twitter discussion page, and partially on Twitter) , the 55 million statistic in the Bloomberg article was redacted.
In the old days, the story would end there. Sure, we could’ve caught and challenged the number a little more quickly, but overall, this was handled pretty nicely on all ends.
But as Twitter user JonGarfunkel pointed out, this one little number has quickly spread: Google blog search returns 1,096 hits for “55 million” users +Twitter.
Such is the power of the blogosphere: to reinforce both the good and the bad, the accurate and the not so accurate.
P.S.: If anybody wants to take up the cause of contacting these bloggers and correcting these blog posts, be my guest! It won’t be me.
Flickr photo courtesy madebymax.