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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014
Buffett on Twitter shows its rising significance
N Madhavan, Hindustan Times
May 05, 2013
First Published: 20:14 IST(5/5/2013)
Last Updated: 20:16 IST(5/5/2013)

Was it just a coincidence that Warren Buffett got on to Twitter and gained thousands of followers in minutes just a few days after Wall Street saw a freaky, temporary crash following the hacking of the Twitter account of the Associated Press that sent out a false rumour about a shootout in the White House?

That may just be a coincidence, but the simple fact is that the microblogging service is now a central feature of the global economy as is proved by both incidents.

All news sources worth their salt are being tracked by more than 200 million Twitter users worldwide. Be it an earthquake of the kind recently witnessed on the Iran-Pakistan border or traders in world markets, news travels fast on Twitter and this seems to be hard fact.

Interestingly, hedge funds have emerged in the US that use software to track tweets and generate intelligence reports that are supposed to or assumed to reflect the mood in the markets -- and decisions are made on investments and speculation on this basis. Like technical charts that study market moods through graphs that reflect market dynamics, Twitter reports are being used to make decisions - and it will take a while to  figure out how good or bad these can be.

But it is clear that just as Facebook is used by sites like Shine.com, a part of the Hindustan Times group, to get referrals for hiring using networks of friends, moods on Twitter is being used by media to make news judgements and market players to gauge the investment climate.

The coming of Warren Buffett, a respectable figure who is not known to waste time and known to act with mental clarity, is perhaps a vote not so much for what is good about social media as for what is relevant about it. Imagine, if there is a rumour on Buffett or his company tomorrow, he can simply log on and shoot it down. Twitter in that sense can be as much a rumour killer than a rumour generator.

Of course, hackers will remain a problem!


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