While at work yesterday I saw a tweet from my friend Cindi in reference to a text alert regarding possible gunmen and shots fired at Western Kentucky University. WKU had sent to text alerts about reports of guns and shots fired and locked down the campus. I have family in the area and my niece has a speech class on WKU campus, so I started looking at local news sites to try to get the full story. As I read things either on news sites or a University of Kentucky bulletin board, I sent tweets with the information. Others were doing this as well. After it was over and turned out to be a fight with likely no weapons involved, people started complaining about the texts and twitter causing mass hysteria.
I am completely on WKU’s side regarding the text alerts. It is much better to be safe and lock the campus down than to wait and have several people dead before you can confirm there is actually a gunman on campus. If WKU had not sent alerts and there had been a shooting the same people whining about the alerts would be complaining about WKU not protecting its students. It is always better to err on the side of safety.
As for the Twitter portion, I believe it is good to keep the flow of information going. All of the tweets I saw were relaying what was being said on MSNBC, CNN, FOX and Bowling Green TV. If these reports were causing “mass hysteria” blame the news channels, not Twitter. SMS and Twitter proved invaluable for those of us who were out of state(in my case in jail) and unable to get the news any other way.