Fake news that CNN host and former Daily Mirror and News of the World editor Piers Morgan had been suspended circulated July 28. Morgan has denied allegations that he engaged in or OK'ed phone hacking for stories.
According to Reuters' Felix Salmon, the fake news originated from this tweet:
"Exclusive: @PiersMorgan suspended from his CNN show while investigations continue following new revelations on alleged phone hacking claims"
The account holder, "Dan Wootton," states in his Twitter bio that the account is a phony news account: "I'm the fake showbiz editor of the paper formerly known as the News of the World and the poor man's Perez Hilton. Follow me for best unsubstantiated gossip."
He has 4,105 followers.
Jon Snow, an anchor for UK TV news outlet Channel 4 News, tweeted the story, but retracted later. "Retraction ahoy..rumour mill produced info on Piers Morgan..was issued on a fake NOW accouint.no truth that Piers Morgan suspended by CNN." The Wrap noted that Snow "deleted his previous tweet alleging the suspension."
Morgan addressed the rumors on Twitter and responded specifically to Snow. "Sorry to disappoint you all, but I'm afraid poor old @jonsnowC4 got duped by a fake Twitter account. I've not been suspended by CNN."
Reuters' Salmon explained some of how the story spread, admitting that he re-tweeted the phony news. (See Salmon's full post here.) Reuters' "official news accounts didn't touch the story," however, according to Salmon.
According to Salmon, Reuters' social media editor Antony De Rosa did tweet on the fake news, but then "put out a long series of tweets -- and even a Tumblr entry -- saying that he'd acted too hastily and should have said that the news was unverified."
Salmon said he both re-tweeted a question about the story being true and a tweet denied the story.
However, Salmon defended rumor circulation on Twitter and Twitter's right to be wrong
. "Twitter is more like a newsroom than a newspaper: it’s where you see news take shape. Rumors appear and die; stories come into focus; people talk about what’s true and what’s false." He added that he isn 't "placing my personal or institutional reputation behind [his tweets'] accuracy."
Salmon also questioned if his tweets are "really 'supposed to be a credible news source?'"
"For that matter, is my blog supposed to be a credible news source? I treat neither of them that way. I rarely break news; I’m much more interested in linking to other people who do that much better than I do. People can give my tweets — and my blog, for that matter — as much or as little weight as they like; I have no control over that."
Media Bistro's Fishbowl NY criticized Salmon's blog because as his Twitter bio states he "is the finance blogger at Reuters," his followers "give more weight to what he tweets, whether he likes it or not.":
Business Insider collected a series of tweets that show how "a false rumor spread like wildfire on Twitter."