Lists on Twitter are a kind of hidden gem. I never knew anything about them, and never actually understood what their purpose was for. It’s really a beautiful way to organize mass amounts of information all into one.
How a Journalist Took Advantage of Lists
One of the interesting stories mentioned in Mobile and Social Media Journalism discusses how a journalist managed to uncover a breaking story, simply from a private twitter list. He had noticed some odd tweets from several bankers, and put them all together in a list so that he could monitor their activity. The list was private, so the bankers were unaware that they were being watched.
This led to the journalist uncovering a massive layoff amongst the bankers. If this list had not been created, the dots would have never been connected. Each tweet from each banker would have been lost in the mass amount of information that shows up on a Twitter feed.
Subscribing to Lists
Twitter lists are also useful, even if you’re not the creator. News outlets have lists that the public can subscribe to, to watch a breaking story unfold right on your Twitter. Often, massive events like the slew of hurricanes we have been monitoring, will generate a list with weather specific news.
In my personal experience, during my time at my internships, I often had public officials and other news outlets add me to their own lists. Police officers have lists just for media, because sometimes the media can gather more information before officials can. Being in a list under a public official is also a benefit in the sense that you have an online relationship with this person. They become dependent on you for information, and vice versa.
Overall, lists are proven to be extremely useful for gathering news, or simply for monitoring a situation.