DJ’s tweet starts Madiba jitters

2011-12-31 00:00

ON a slow news day, it seems, the Twittersphere is so on edge about Nelson Mandela’s health that it doesn’t take long for false reports to start trending quickly.

Yesterday started with KayaFM’s breakfast show host, Khomotso Mabena (@bob959), tweeting “Breaking news - Nelson Mandela is in hospital” at 9 am. Sn hour later he tweeted, “We need 2 calm down. News is Mandela in hospital; not critical!!!”

He was watching re-runs of news from 2011 on e.tv, and then realised his error: “Was called in studio 2 watch eNews. Saw live visuals & tweeted. It was reruns. Stupid mistake. Shud’ve confirmed. Apologies”.

But with his 1 400-plus followers re-tweeting and replying, “Madiba” quickly started trending.

The ship was steadied by other Twitter users with large followings, including Mandy Wiener of Eyewitness News, who tweeted, “Nothing like a spot of rumour mongering and social media panic to get the day started. Source at NMF says Madiba is not in hospital.”

@MensDom summed it up: “Hospital tweet by @bob959 shows that social media journalism scoop still does not beat accuracy. Verify, verify, verify.”

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Mandela was in good health and in good spirits and enjoying the festive season at his home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

“The presidency has received calls from the media inquiring about Madiba’s health. It appears that an end-of-year review done by a media house may have unfortunately triggered a rumour of ill-health.”

• ryanc@witness.co.za

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