Due to social networking and the internet, many people have become citizen journalists, sometimes given first-hand accounts of stories and offering perspectives that many mainstream journalist’s cannot. This is revolutionary in today’s day and age of instant news broadcast and information, but does have its drawbacks. Citizen journalism does not necessarily equal responsible journalism.
From Manti Te’o’s girlfriend and the Arizona Powerball winner, to a fake Facebook status claiming to protect your personal information, social media hoaxes have run amuck. With the availability of anyone who has access to the internet, any information or news can be posted and created out of thin air. The true tragedy is the overwhelming amount of people who believe this so-called “news” without verifying the credibility of the source.
A lot of the false information that gets spread around is outrageous or tempting articles that will lure the Facebook user straight to a virus. Or in other cases, false information reported could be illegal if it hampers or interferes with a police investigation.
Some of these posts may be created for a joke, but can often be damaging to the individual or group that may be the focus of the hoax.
The best ways to put a halt to these rumors are to be responsible of your personal posts, and to notify the website’s administrator about any misinformation. The internet, unlike traditional media based journalism, does not have an editor or filter to validate the credibility of a particular story. Just because something is on the internet, doesn’t mean that it is true.
If a story sounds suspicious, check its source(s). Is the information attributed to a creditable, non-biased source? Can the story be found on another legitimate web site? If in doubt, do not share the article, this can only perpetuate the story continue the spiral of misinformation. If you are certain that a particular social media post is either false or viral, discretely notify your Facebook friends, or post a general message alerting your entire social network of its untruth.
[Image via inbythroughhim]