There’s nothing like the death of a superstar to show how far we’ve come in terms of sending and receiving information in the digital age. Both the internet and Twitter suffered under the strain after the death of Michael Jackson. If you googled his name last Friday, the internet was returning an error because it thought it was under attack from malware/spyware. Twitter also crashed, with some outlets reporting at one stage there was over 100,000 tweets an hour related to the subject. What this also brings up is something else – have individuals become their own media outlets? Ashton Kutcher for one, was telling everybody “I plea to the press to respect his wishes of maintaining the anonymity of his children,” and even telling users to boycott news outlets by asking them “to refuse to consume media that does not respect the anonymity of Michaels (sic) children.” With over a million followers, has the likes of Kutcher become the first port of call when huge stories break, as opposed to traditional news outlets? Probably. I’m sure when people want more in-depth coverage they look on traditional media sites, or buy a newspaper, but I’m seeing evidence that with breaking news, more and more people are getting their info from social networking sites – especially the younger generation. There is good and bad with this. The good is that the information is out there quickly, which keeps us informed. With Twitter in particular, it is instantaneous, which even with the fast uploads of most news sites, cannot be beaten. The biggest downfall will be the lack of accuracy, as was proven with reports on Friday that actor Jeff Goldblum had died falling down a cliff while filming in New Zealand. A few news agencies reported it as fact, before retracting the stories later in the day. I don’t think this is going to change any time soon, but I think a mixture of both is a good thing.