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The week social media exposed lies in Texas and Florida

07.03.2013
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We’ve had a big week for political news and no matter what side of the aisle you sit on, it’s clear that no one can hide from social media. While we think of social media as a wave of sentiment, it is also a remarkable fact checker in itself, as saw.

Gosh, look at the time…

Wendy Davis filibustered an abortion bill in Texas for 11 hours. How is that social? The filibuster only needed to last until midnight before everyone could go home. The problem: the vote was taken at 12:03, clearly going against the rules. People (me included) were watching the vote live on YouTube and saw that the vote was being cast minutes after the deadline. It only took seconds for outrage to hit Twitter where people were posting time stamps and images on the already-trending abortion bill hashtags.

Despite the evidence, the Texas Legislature attempted to change the time on the vote of the bill to show that the vote was made before midnight, while thousands of people watching the events play out knew it hadn’t.

You follow or you don’t

Jenna Lauer Twitter accountIn the George Zimmerman murder trial a witness claimed to not have any relationship with the defendant. Jenna Lauer, AKA Twitter’s @jenna_lauer, claimed she had no personal connection to Zimmerman, but had in fact followed his brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. on Twitter. Lauer testified that she never actually followed him, has no relationship with the brother, and if she did, it was only by mistake.

She stuck to her story, but with 64 followers and following over 100 people, her claim that she does not know how to use Twitter did not hold up.  Twitter users responds and minutes after she claimed not to follow him, the public took screenshots of her account showing otherwise. If you like conspiracy theories, not long after this incident aired on television, Jenna Lauer’s account disappeared.

You can run but you can’t hide

When the world is watching through social media, it becomes near impossible to hide or evade the truth. In the social world we live, we can count on self-appointed fact checkers doing simple investigation by  logging onto a social network site to determine if people in the national spotlight are being honest. The minute people start to smell the smoke of dishonestly, a wildfire is of tweets is sure to follow.

Where does it all go from here? In the Texas debacle, the situation only lasted minutes as Texas righted its wrong and pulled back the bogus vote. For Lauer, the smoke has not yet settled as the prosecution attorneys have reserved the right to bring her back to court, and possibly charge her with perjury.

Lauer, an average person just yesterday, is now Twitter-infamous. The Texas Legislature earned the public’s skeptical eye and there’s no turning back from this new transparency.

Published at DZone with permission of Christopher Taylor, author and DZone MVB.

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