Qantas' A380 emergency a few days ago has tarnished the brand's image, and the impact of social media and its instantaneous ability to spread good or bad news has played a part in that. Simon Canning writes in today's Australian that "The challenge to the airline has been further amplified by the emergence of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. "Within minutes of word escaping that there had been a problem with a Qantas jet bound from Singapore to Sydney, Twitter was alive with reports the jet had crashed. "In the past, such misinformation used to arrive in a newsroom and await confirmation before being broadcast to the world. However, this time Twitter followers for several minutes retweeted unconfirmed news of the crash and shares in the airline plunged briefly before its was clarified that the plane had in fact landed safely in Singapore. "By then, photos of the cowling were making their way across the world and pictures from the airport confirmed the wreckage was from the jet, with every tweet and image eroding faith in the Qantas brand. "Qantas's brand is now much like the crippled A380: damaged and grounded, but far from out of service." Doesn't this make you think about the power of social media and what it can do to your brand? That little line above about share prices dropping immediately after the tweets about the aircraft crashing are as chilling as the notion that the A380 actually fell from the sky. Social media isn't going to go away; it's getting bigger by the minute and is now, really, another arm of mainstream media. We can all be reporters. But reporting misinformation like the "crash" via social media channels can have a grave impact on organisations and the people that run them. When you use social media services, remember the information stays out there forever. Get your facts right before you put finger to keyboard. You could severely damage someone's reputation. Depending on the situation that someone could be you.