Isn’t it great how informed we can stay, thanks to social media? We can google the latest news headlines, catch tweets about what’s happening as it happens, and find some wonderful links on GooglePlus. But this instant sharing opens us up to a new danger… believing everything we read as if it is fact. Just because someone posts something, doesn’t make it true. The burden is still on each of us to investigate before we share.
The picture is intriguing. It is also misleading.
The photo is actually a cropped close-up of crinoids (fossils) — and yet it was shared and reshare over a million times. I made my friend aware of the hoax and he was both embarrassed and surprised. He had gotten the information from a source he considered reliable.
People (especially politicians) have discovered that social media is a great way to pull one over on the public. They throw out a piece of misleading information, and then wait for the news-devouring piranha to eat it up and spit it out like brainless guppies. Don’t be one of those brainless guppies. Check facts before resharing information, and when you find someone regurgitating garbage, let them know (gently) so others don’t make the same mistake.
Perhaps the next generation of social tools should include a fact-checking feature where people can report links that support or discredit stories.