“I know because I read it on the internet.”
“Well, you know, kiddo, not everything on the internet is true.”
“Oh, no, everything that I read on the internet is true or else people wouldn’t believe it.”
Oh, golly. Actual conversation from today. It wasn’t a big deal because it was an actual little kid who thought that everything he read on the internet was true, so we explained to him that there are falsehoods on the internet, and he got it.
Buuuut then I turn on my computer.
Trump did this amazing thing, wow so crazy.
Obama said this horrible thing, I can’t believe it.
Pepsi took God off soda cans, disgusting.
You know the drill. You’ve seen the posts. Sometimes the posts are originally meant as satire and misinterpreted, sometimes, the posts are just genuine internet hoaxes. But people see the crazy headlines and the crazy stories and click share.
Just for the lolz, check these ones out.
Wow, how nice of Beyonce to help Hillary Clinton out.
Okay, so the second one was definitely a joke, and the first post was probably meant as a joke, but I can’t tell half the time with Tumblr (which is part of why it is so darn entertaining). But make a note: both of those posts are found on the internet. AND both of those posts are untrue. Crazy. Unheard of. Wow.
Sometimes, the posts are a little more subtle though. Sometimes it’s sharing a quote that’s been misattributed. Sometimes it’s a false explanation for something weird in a picture. Sometimes it’s an altered video or a video taken out of context. There are a lot of these false posts out there.
But we press share. It’s too hard to go to Snopes, or to go to a fact-checking website, or to even do a quick Google search. Oh, no, it’s just not worth the effort.
Here’s me, coming at you live with some fact-checking. It IS worth the effort to check before we post. When we continuously post things that aren’t true, we deliver a message. It says, “I don’t care if this is true or not! I don’t care about truth, I just care about what I want people to think.” Or it might even say, “Hey, I thought this was true even though I shouldn’t have!”
If you want people to see you as a reliable source that testifies to the truth, or if you want people to value what you have to say, you need to act like you care about the truth.
I’ll be honest. I’ve gotten it wrong before. I’ve shared things and posted things with very little knowledge of situations and I haven’t done my research. Maybe you’re in the same boat. So then what?
Acknowledge the falsity. Delete it. Edit the post. But don’t leave it there knowing that it’s wrong. Don’t continue defending the false thing.
And then, don’t keep doing it. Guys, fact-checking isn’t super hard. It’s easy to make a mistake every now and then. We’re fallible humans. But don’t be the person who has the reputation of sharing all of the hoaxes.
We know we can’t believe everything on the internet. Let’s sort out the fact from the fiction before sharing and retweeting.