Twitter has become the go-to social network for breaking news in recent years. The short form, ability to view a constantly updating stream in real time, and searchable hashtags made it perfectly suited to the rapid dissemination of news. With the launch of Periscope, a live streaming app for iOS, Twitter has an opportunity to deliver even more news, with added credibility.
Through partnerships with companies like Dataminr, Twitter has been informing the mainstream news cycle directly. Twitter has also informed the cycle indirectly by positioning itself as a place to see the news before it’s news, as was the case with the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Periscope has the potential to add live video content to Twitter, which could radically change breaking news. Mainstream sources already rely on Twitter for breaking news, and now they could begin to rely on what The Next Web calls “Next level Twitter.” Next Web reporter Owen Williams watched the aftermath of an explosion in New York City on Periscope:
It’s unprecedented to get this kind of footage seconds after an event occurs, even before first responders arrived. As I watched the drama unfold in New York, streamers were replying to questions about what they could see and were experiencing.
He notes that Periscope removes the friction associated with live video. Users have already been using video tools, particularly Vine, to reduce the amount of time it takes to get the message out there. The #ICantBreathe protests made perfect Vine news material: The six second format kept the message short, and Vines can be uploaded very quickly. Professional journalists have also been finding value in Vine.
One of the problems faced by journalism on social media is that many readers still don’t trust it. Livestreamed content from Periscope, Meerkat, and other similar services, would be much harder to doubt than live tweets or uploaded pictures. Periscope said in an official statement that the app provides “a visual pulse of what’s happening right now.”
This visual pulse, when accompanied with users answering questions live, could lend a great deal of credibility to the reporting that comes out of Periscope. If journalists take to Periscope like they have to Twitter and Vine, then the delay between the event and the reporting could effectively be reduced to zero.