How to Find Breaking News on Twitter

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Update: Really odd coincidence. Almost as soon as I clicked post I hear from Matt Magain (SitePoint’s managing editor) that Twitter is blowing up with reports of an earthquake in Los Angeles. You can follow it live by searching Twitter. Also check out the trend jump like crazy on Twist. (And just a note: CNN does have a banner on the quake, but according to many tweets, Twitter again beat them to it. I can’t verify that, though.) A big story that’s often told about the success of Twitter, is about its emergence as a breaking news platform. Twitter doesn’t compete with traditional written news (in the way blogs essentially do), but because of its speed and always on nature, it has evolved into a great tool for reporters to source breaking stories. Twitter’s founder’s realized its potential to break news early on during a minor earthquake, and in 2007, Twitter indeed broke news about an earthquake in Mexico. Last year, the messaging service beat mainstream news organizations (and in one case even the USGS) to reports about two earthquakes — one in the UK in February, and then a larger one a month later in China. We wrote last October that Twitter works as a news distribution platform for four reasons:
  1. It’s fast.
  2. It’s open.
  3. It’s easy.
  4. It’s two way.
But it’s also very spread out. Keeping up with breaking news on Twitter isn’t easy unless you happen to be following the people tweeting about whatever is happening at the time they’re tweeting it. That’s probably not going to happen unless you’re Robert Scoble
, follow a bajillion people, and never sleep. Twitter is also kind of jumbled — there’s a high ratio of noise to signal so it can be hard to sort out what’s newsworthy from what’s not. So how does one find out what’s happening through Twitter? A recently launched site called Twopular might help. Twopular is a trend tracker built for Twitter that identifies hot trends on Twitter over the past 2, 8, 24 hours, week, or month. Not surprisingly, today Twitter was mostly dominated by talk of the new Palm phone, CES, MacWorld, the Windows 7 Beta, the Gaza-Israel conflict, and the BCS college football championship in the US. Twopular provides links to the top Twitter users that are causing that term to trend up (allowing you to click through to actual tweets), a link to a real-time Twitter search of that trend, as well as links to related trends. When used in conjunction with Twist, a separate tool that graphs Twitter trends on a timeline and allows them to be compared, and with Google Trends, a similar service based on search, news, and blog data, Twopular becomes a powerful tool to track breaking news on Twitter. Certainly oft-talked about topics might appear on trend sites like Twopular even without the occurrence of breaking news, but when something breaks, a site like Twopular will usually catch it as it happens. Twitter’s search page also lists trending topics, though it is not as robust as Twopular. Twitter’s search is actually a great way to monitor for breaking news in specific topics. Because it’s real-time and all searches are available as RSS feeds, you can use the Twitter search page to constantly monitor certain topics and keep abreast of news as it breaks. All of these sources can be used together to paint a richer and more accurate picture of what is happening in the world. Another option, of course, is to follow @BreakingNewsOn, a Twitter based newswire that often breaks news stories before the mainstream press. In February of last year, for example, they tweeted about an earthquake in the UK
well before the BBC reported it, presumably by monitoring trending topics on Twitter. They’re now raising money for a planned expansion.

Frequently Asked Questions about Finding Breaking News on Twitter

How can I use Twitter’s advanced search to find breaking news?

Twitter’s advanced search is a powerful tool that allows you to filter tweets by words, people, places, and dates. To use it for finding breaking news, you can input keywords related to the news you’re interested in, such as “earthquake” or “election results”. You can also filter by location to get news from a specific area. Remember to sort the results by “latest” to get the most recent tweets.

How can I use Twitter lists to stay updated with breaking news?

Twitter lists are a great way to organize and follow accounts that frequently post about breaking news. You can create a list and add news outlets, journalists, or other sources of news. Whenever you want to check the news, you can simply go to your list and see the latest tweets from these accounts.

How can I use hashtags to find breaking news on Twitter?

Hashtags are used on Twitter to categorize tweets and make them easily discoverable. They are often used in tweets about breaking news. By clicking on or searching for a specific hashtag, you can see all the tweets that include it. For breaking news, look for trending hashtags or create a list of common news-related hashtags to check regularly.

How can I set up Twitter notifications for breaking news?

You can set up Twitter notifications to receive alerts when certain accounts tweet or when tweets mention specific keywords. This can be useful for staying updated with breaking news. To set up notifications, go to the settings of your Twitter account, select “Notifications”, and customize your preferences.

How can I verify the authenticity of breaking news on Twitter?

Verifying the authenticity of news on Twitter can be challenging due to the rapid spread of information. However, there are a few strategies you can use. First, check the source of the news. Reliable sources are usually news outlets or journalists with a verified badge. Second, look for multiple sources reporting the same news. Finally, be wary of tweets that rely on rumors or unverified information.

How can I use Twitter Moments to find breaking news?

Twitter Moments are collections of tweets about a specific topic or event. They are often used to highlight breaking news. You can find Moments on the Twitter homepage or by searching for a specific topic. Moments are a great way to see a curated collection of tweets about a news event from multiple perspectives.

How can I use Twitter’s “Explore” feature to find breaking news?

Twitter’s “Explore” feature allows you to discover trending topics and hashtags, which often include breaking news. You can access “Explore” from the Twitter homepage. It’s a great way to see what news is currently trending and to discover new topics of interest.

How can I use Twitter to follow live events?

Twitter is a great platform for following live events as they unfold. Many news outlets and journalists live-tweet events, providing real-time updates and commentary. To follow a live event, you can search for the event’s name or hashtag, or follow accounts that are covering the event.

How can I use Twitter to find local news?

To find local news on Twitter, you can follow local news outlets, journalists, and government officials. You can also use Twitter’s advanced search to filter tweets by location. Additionally, local news often trends in the “Explore” section, so be sure to check there as well.

How can I use Twitter to find international news?

To find international news on Twitter, you can follow international news outlets, foreign correspondents, and global organizations. You can also use hashtags to find tweets about specific countries or regions. Remember to verify the source of the news to ensure its authenticity.

Josh CatoneJosh Catone
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Before joining Jilt, Josh Catone was the Executive Director of Editorial Projects at Mashable, the Lead Writer at ReadWriteWeb, Lead Blogger at SitePoint, and the Community Evangelist at DandyID. On the side, Josh enjoys managing his blog The Fluffington Post.

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