Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Google/Brightcove Rumor Meme Started With One Tweet

It all started with a single Tweet from PBS MediaShift editor Mark Glaser who said on his Twitter page that Google was planning to buy Brightcove for $500-$700 million. Before the information could substantiated the tech blogs went wild with the rumor which at the end of the day proved to be just that, a rumor that was proved false. While many who covered the rumor used a question mark in their title it still caused Brightcove's PR team to say over and over, "Brightcove does not comment on rumors."

Blog after blog regurgitated the same story, "Google Inc. is reportedly weighing the acquisition of Internet TV service Brightcove Inc. for between $500 million and $700 million..." and they all used only one Tweet to run with the story.

Just after 9:00 am pacific time mediatwit the following Tweet:

Glaser noted later that he never said Google was buying Brightcove and that a source told him they were in buyout discussions and that it was not a done deal. He said not one person contacted him to check it and they "all just ran with the one tweet". 

I spoke with Dan Rayburn, one of the only voices of reason in all this, who wrote several posts today about both negative affect of this type of deal for content owners and negative affect that Twitter plays in news coverage. Dan later confirmed that the rumor is false and that Google is not acquiring Brightcove. I wasn't sure if I would take the time to post something on this subject but I felt compelled to comment on the way the online news agencies covered this rumor. 

I think Dan really hit the nail on the head with this statement:
"I think this is a great example of where Twitter is dangerous. If this kind of news first came out on a blog, people would expect some analysis of the story, would expect to read the authors take on what it means and the blog would give the author enough room to give their take on the news. But with Twitter, how much can someone really explain something in 140 characters? As Mark pointed out in a follow-up Tweet, he never said Google "acquired" Brightcove, he said his source told him they were in discussions. Something that probably would have come across a lot stronger if it was a blog post, as opposed to a one sentence comment on Twitter."
The reaction within the blogosphere today reminded a bit about the story I covered last week of the two Bangladeshi newspapers that got duped by The Onion into believing their fake new story of the lunar landing. The editors thought the story was true and printed it without checking the facts. They had to print apologies to their readers when they found out that The Onion was not a genuine news site. While the Google/Brightcove rumor meme is a completely different situation from The Onion story, they both are examples of why it's important to check your facts, do some digging and not feed the rumor mill.

I've actually have been working a follow up post from the Brightcove Alliance meetup last week along with an in-depth interview I conducted with Brightcove founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire. Brightcove has some big announcements coming up this fall and Jeremy will be delivering the keynote address at the Online Video Platform Summit in November.

Look for those upcoming posts soon.