The internet is an amazing thing. It allows us to share all the world’s information with anyone, anywhere. Unfortunately, it allows us to share misinformation with anyone, anywhere. This has been an issue since the birth of the internet, but the recent election coverage really drew attention to this, what with Facebook being criticized the heaviest for allowing fake news and half-truths about both candidates to flourish, to the detriment of actual, real news.
While I am beyond thankful that the election is over and we can actually think and read about something- anything! – else, I still find it very upsetting when people post bad information about any topic. Some of the worst offenders are fake giveaways, fake missing/ sick children, fake celebrity deaths, and fake health and wellness stories.
Many people will ask “What’s the harm in posting something that may only be partially true as long as it still tells a good story or shares a narrative that is important?” First, it’s very irresponsible to post something that you aren’t sure is true. It only takes a couple of seconds to do a quick Google search- there is no excuse not to do it. Second, you can actually cause harm. Your “miracle cure” post can cause someone to spend money on products that don’t work or that could interact poorly with something else they consume. Your “can I get 1000 shares for this abused child” image could have imbedded malware that will steal personal information and / or credit card information from another’s computer. Third, it can damage your reputation. Post a few fake news articles and no one will take the time to read anything else you post because they know you don’t fact check.
So, as the Spiderman comics say, WIth Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Please use your powers wisely.