San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Vine brings breaking news GIFs to social media

04_22_13_Features_Vine_MLThe microblog world added a visual member to its pack of social media apps last January. The same people who commercialized the 140-character tool, Twitter, recently introduced a six-second GIF-like video tool called Vine. Four months into its genesis, Vine gained considerable popularity and, much like Twitter, became an important role in breaking news.

Witnesses and journalists used the app to post videos of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last Monday.

A Vine recording from a Boston television affiliate was tweeted 40,400 times by Tuesday morning, reaching an exponentially larger audience than its local following. The Vine app is seamlessly integrated into Twitter, and recently allowed its videos to be embedded into various websites.

“Sometimes it takes more work to be brief than to go long, so just a brief snapshot of a scene could say a lot,” journalism and media studies assistant professor Rebecca Coates-Nee said.

The impact of the Vine video prompted headlines such as the Huffington Post’s “6 seconds of horror, on repeat.” The brevity and expansiveness in which the video traveled caused some people to blog about the fear propelled by these instant uploads.

“Fast-filed news reports and Twitter provided the first wave of terror,” The Wrap TV editor Tim Molloy wrote in an article featured on Yahoo News. “But on Monday, there were instant images showing us what violence really looks like: sudden and absurd, completely out of place.”

However, social media’s role in the bombings was not limited to spreading fear. The Boston Police Department tweeted its search for video from the finish line. Mashable reported microblogs could play a key role in the ongoing investigation to find the individual or group behind the bombing—that is, if these sources could provide verified facts, rather than adding to the confusion with misinformation.

According to an article posted on Mediabistro, several stories ran on Monday that were either unverified or false, including an alleged Saudi suspect captured by Boston police, cut-off cellphone service and seven undetonated bombs found in the neighboring buildings.

The article pointed out one of Twitter’s main faults. The race to break news can sometimes impede the verification process, which leads to credible sources sharing incorrect news with
their followers.

In addition to Twitter’s use as a news outlet, it is also holds its power to connect people. Nee said hashtags serve to build the community by being able to search for people who are talking about a certain topic.

Mashable reported Twitter donated a promoted trend to the organization The One Fund, which seeks to help those affected by the bombings. The One Fund’s hashtag #OneBoston appeared as the top world trend on Tuesday. Brands are said to pay about $200,000 per day for a promoted trend.

Nee said in addition to building community, hashtags also make search easier.

“It is a way of filtering all this information that is coming at us through Google,” Nee said. “We get a lot of information through search, but by following certain people whom we trust, organizations or credible journalists, they’re filtering that information for us.”

Nee said Vine is the visual addition to the social media toolbox, which connects viewers with crime scene content.

“We’ve become very image-oriented, and we see the popularity of Instagram for photos,”
Nee said.

An Instagram snapshot of unclaimed bags at the Boston Marathon was retweeted by The New York Times Monday night. The image was originally posted by New York Times sports reporter Mary Pilon.

Nee said microblogs serve as headlines that can link to detailed coverage, just as Pilon’s picture could have a wider story behind it—the runners who did not return to collect their items.

“A quote by Mark Twain says, ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,’ and to me that says it. It is a lot harder to be succinct and get the message across well than it is taking a big long time saying something,” Nee said.

The power of social media was evident after the Boston Marathon bombings. Frightening visuals and information spread rapidly across the globe. Viewers were exposed to tragic instantaneous clips on their mobile devices. Some opted to react, fighting the unfortunate events covered by a six-second loop with the charities reaching people through 140-character tweets
and hashtags.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Vine brings breaking news GIFs to social media