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The Short Lifespan of a Rumor

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The Short Lifespan of a Rumor

by Patrick Newman (Nov 23, 2010)

On Friday, I found an article that I liked and "tweeted" it,  which my friends at MLB Trade Rumors then picked up and wrote a post on. Within a half hour of the MLBTR post, journalist Nick Piecoro had refuted the information in the original article with one of the principles of the story.

What was the story? A summary and some speculation about the Diamondbacks interest in Lotte reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi. The story included a quote from D-Backs GM Kevin Towers, one that he made in late September: "We have strong interest in Japanese pitchers. Once we size up the market, if we decide that Japanese pitchers like Hiro Kobayashi fit our team we'll move to acquire them." The article went on to say that the Diamondbacks have "already prepared a contract of around $3m over two years," and explain the team's bullpen issues and Towers' experience acquiring Akinori Otsuka.

It seemed plausible enough, and still does, but got denied pretty quickly. Two things jump out at me here, both related to Twitter. The first is the speed at which this took place - from the time I saw the article it only took a tweet, a blog post, a text message and another tweet to shoot the news down. The second is the limitations of Twitter as a vehicle for information. One of Twitter's founding fathers, Evan Williams, recently said "we've lowered the barriers to publishing almost as far as they can go." While that's true, the 140 character format of Twitter messages isn't conducive to including a lot of qualifying contextual information. Twitter is a great way to build an audience and communicate with readers, but it turns out that it's not terribly compatible with my style of making information available.

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