Is retweeting an unfounded rumor the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater?

Is retweeting an unfounded rumor the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater? Are you specifically endorsing a post that you share? What about Caveat emptor..or let the receiver beware? Interesting legal responsibilities unique to our times.

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9 Responses to Is retweeting an unfounded rumor the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater?


  1. Could it also be that the model that governs the spread of epidemics also govern the spread of rumours and innuendo on social networks?

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    That’s a great idea. I wonder if there is a science behind following the spread of tweets or viral videos.


  3. There probably is but the million dollar question is what are the properties of an especially virulent social pathogen. Been thinking about it since I read your post. Alas, the good lord has given me the horns to ask the questions, but not the wings to seek the answers with 🙂

  4. Todd Settimo says:


    I used to run a daily electronic newsletter called Essential News Links and the posting philosophy I employ today follows the editorial philosophy I employed with the newsletter – I don’t always post because I agree with what I’m posting. I post because I find what I’m posting to be thought provoking. That which I post is as likely to come from The American Conservative as The Huffington Post.

  5. Rajini Rao says:


    Pfft..what are wings without horns? The security guys probably have algorithms worked out for the spread and damage of computer viruses, I’m guessing?

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    Todd Settimo , thought provoking topics are good all around. But what about sharing news of a terrorist attack or natural disaster that could trigger panic. In such a case, there may not be time/resources to verify it. So it seems harsh to penalize someone for passing along something they thought was true. Perhaps it is time for common sense guidelines on social responsibilities online.

  7. Todd Settimo says:


    I agree. You first. 😉


    (sorry for the flippancy…it’s just that in my 30 year IT career, I’ve been embroiled in some of the most hotly contested discussions which began with the words ‘We should set out some common sense standards.’ “Common sense,” as Voltaire said, “is not so common.”)

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Uncommon sense, then! Actually, I tried to think of some but they sounded trite or obvious. Such as trust, but verify.

  9. Todd Settimo says:


    I think all too often what needs to be said isn’t because it seems obvious. But what’s obvious to some aren’t to many others. Reagan’s dictum toward Soviet disarmament really does apply here.

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