Monday, August 20, 2012

The Speed of the Internet

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Edit August 20, 2012 @ 5:21pm: The plane carrying Robredo and his companions was a Seneca, not a Cesna.

Last week, DILG secretary Jesse Robredo was in a plane crash en route from Cebu to Naga. You can read more about the event on this story by GMA News.

I’m not writing about that, though. I’m writing about how fast news travels via the Internet. I work with social media most of the time, so I’ve seen first-hand just how helpful literally having information at your fingertips can be. During calamities in the Philippines, we disseminated information via Twitter and Facebook. In the Arab Spring, Egyptians rose against the government mostly via social media as well.

But then the Seneca Robredo was in crashes along the coast of Masbate. This was between 5pm – 6pm of august 18, 2012. Within an hour, my local Twittersphere was bursting with the news, and it got me to researching Jesse Robredo. Since I live in the age of the Internet, my first stop was Wikipedia. Imagine my surprise when the Google SERP blurb for Robredo read “…Jesse Manalastas Robredo (May 27, 1958 - August 18, 2012)…”

After a couple of hits on the refresh button, Wiki editors changed that back to it’s original state, which meant that Robredo was still alive, as far as Wiki was concerned. But then, a little bit later, I managed to grab this screenie:


So not only was Robredo missing, the article had been tagged as somebody who had recently died. All this happened within the span of two hours.

That’s the speed of the Internet today, folks. And here in the Philippines, we have around 80 million Facebook users, so you can just imagine how many people there are spreading news items, blind items, gossip, and secondhand stories at the speed of at least 1mbps. A decade ago, we relied on newspapers for full stories, TV Patrol for news reports, and the AM radio for on the dot news updates. Today, you’ve got the news feeding into your cellphone, for crying out loud.

Is it any surprise that folks get “killed off” on the web, just like that one time when people thought that Jon Bon Jovi was dead? Do you find it weird that magistrates and senators copy words from blogs without even checking if the site features a Creative Commons license dictating how they would like their content to be shared? Put a gun in the hands of an idiot, and you’ll probably end up with a lot of dead people. Same thing goes with the capability to spread news at the speed of today’s information age.

So with that comes a warning: double check everything you read. If you can’t, post with a caveat. That’s a tough call to make whenever you’re reading something less than 140 characters long. But when in doubt, always remember Bon Jovi’s message from beyond the grave:



  1. There was actually an experiment that exploits this "speed of the internet" you are talking about.

    Read this:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. That's pretty fun data. (Also, a screw like that could also be pretty useful in any industry, but that's not the point of the study, is it? haha!)