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Responsibility

Warning: contains opinions and points of view.

There was a tweet posted by a Scottish writer and broadcaster (I’m not linking to them or their post) that said:

Starbucks avoids paying UK taxes and they oppose gay marriage. Makes choosing my coffee shop so much easier.

Wow. Starbucks doesn’t pay UK taxes and don’t support gay marriage? First of all, they’re two strange points to combine together. Secondly, no citation. No source or article was mentioned1.

The tax thing is true, they have paid almost no UK tax due to yet another tax loophole. But don’t support gay marriage? That’s not only false but the complete opposite.

Starbucks have been a strong proponent of gay marriage for a long time – to the point that there are anti-Starbucks websites set up (I’m not giving them the satisfaction of a link, but search for Dump Starbucks if you must).

I knew Starbuck’s stance on gay marriage already so I instantly knew the tweet was utter rubbish – but for someone who didn’t it would take a mere 30 seconds on Google to find out.

So why am I writing about this? It isn’t Apple or tech related in any way? Well it sort of is.

This tweet got retweeted a lot of times. I saw it this morning as a few people I follow retweeted it. Most people using Twitter retweet something they find funny, interesting or that they agree with. To a lot of the people who retweeted it, it was to share this bit of “information” that they stumbled across. To be fair, I wouldn’t expect everyone to fact-check any tweet they wanted to retweet before doing it – that’s a lot of work for 140 characters. Why would you? If it were the BBC News Twitter account, you’d accept it as fact. From a journalist or broadcaster, why assume otherwise?

Twitter is a source of information and news for a lot of people (and should be treated as such). Journalists, broadcasters – in fact anyone working in the media of news – has a responsibility to make sure they aren’t tweeting utter garbage. If BBC News broke this on the air with no source, no fact checking, they’d be ripped apart.

  1. I don’t believe for one second that the user had any personal agenda when writing and a later tweet from them (which I can’t find but did read on their timeline before being blocked) appeared to suggest they had seen an article about Starbucks opposing an anti-gay bill and didn’t correct for the double negative in the headline.