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I found out yesterday that my friend Elizabeth Edwards might be sick again. In the short time I've been able to spend with her, she touched me with her kindness and insight. So, naturally, I was checking the web today to see what was up. Along with millions of other people, I care about her.
For an hour, hundreds of news stories stated (with authority) that John was going to leave the campaign because of Elizabeth's relapse. And then the campaign announced the real news. So in the next hour, one by one, all the media which minutes ago had been so certain of the facts turned around and printed new facts. And the thing is, it looks like someone in the Edwards camp changed their mind, when actually, there was exactly one announcement.
In the old asynchronous days, of course, we would have only heard the last story, the real one.
Same thing happens with rats at the KFC or with your brand. When the news cycle is reduced to seconds, rumours become facts even when they're not true.