I see this ALL the time, way too often actually, and it’s quite scary. Something is posted or shared and it goes viral and people are outraged (or super happy, depending on the post) and suddenly in a flurry it’s all over Facebook. I have seen post on how it’s the end of the world, photos of all of the “awful” things happening around the world, and even some good things. Share this photo and get free chipotle! Yeah, I have been there and done that and guess what, if you show that photo to a fast food chain they will laugh at you and say sorry, this isn’t valid please actually buy your meal.
But why do we this? We share something without really thinking of it’s origins or where it came from or who even originally posted it. And it’s not too hard to find out what is falsified and what is actually real. I mean google searches can tell you where pictures actually came from. Searching for the original post can tell you if this is a legit facebook sharing stuff or one that was just created to share this account of things that suddenly has surfaced but is totally true. And just plain common sense will tell you what is entirely plausible, and what isn’t.
Remember the tide pod eating craze? And then right after it suddenly became huge news that kids were snorting condoms? Yeah, the actual video of that was from years ago, from one kid who was doing some kind of challenge. But everyone believed that kids were now snorting condoms because someone found this video and shared it like “kids now days snort condoms! First tide pods, now this? Crazy!” and it was insane how fast people believed this to be something kids were actually doing quite regularly. Which in turn led kids to actually try it, though thankfully only a couple did. At least only a couple filmed and published it. But a quick youtube search will show you like 2 kids who actually tried, tons of news videos on this “new trend” and then videos from a year ago, 5 years ago and even 10 years ago.
I watched a video one time, about a person talking to a snake. They said to the snake, “You have legs! It was on facebook, so it’s true!” and while the snake tried to tell the person how stupid it was, snakes don’t have legs, the person shared the post and told everyone they know that snakes do have legs. Because it was on facebook, so it must be true. Here is the actual video if you ever want to watch it. While incredibly dumb, it has a point. Just believing something that is from our facebook timeline isn’t actually a valid source.
Here is a thing though, people can post whatever they want. Google has a bajillion images that anyone can download. And photoshop exists. So this tweet that is supposedly from some verified account saying these newsworthy things is actually very easily edited in photoshop. I have no idea how to use photoshop and I can safely tell you that I would be able to make up a fake tweet. If you really want to know if someone actually tweeted this out, go sift through all the tweets they have tweeted. Also good luck, because my twitter alone has over 12K tweets and I’m not even verified.
The facts are though, just because something is posted, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because they have a photo, doesn’t mean it’s true. People lie, people make stuff up and people spread rumors about all kinds of things. It’s sad, but it’s true.
All those go fund me links you see asking for donations? Do you even know where this money is going. Maybe it’s the still the broke college kid in me but when I see a link, I don’t just drop money all over it. I don’t know the people personally asking, I do not 100% know for sure that they even need the money for what they say because I have never met them. And it’s sad, because I would love to be able to help everyone who needs help. But not through a link online, in a world where people can make false profiles and write whatever they want. I do not know if they will actually take the money and use it for what they claim, or if this is a scam because they know if they get a picture of a little girl and say she needs help she is so sick people will donate money to them. Not to mention the thousands of funding pages for things like “help me buy this, I need a car, I want to travel etc” which alone make a person shudder with the amount of funding pages people have for things they really should just be saving up for with their own money. As much as I would love to have an all expenses paid vacation via go fund me, I can go to work and save my money and do it myself.
The thing is though, we live in a fast social media world now. Where people are obsessed with sharing everything. But we never get the whole story. The videos of people being treated “poorly” at a store or restaurant could very well be an act. Because all we see is the last half of what was going on, with this person claiming that they are being treated so poorly. But what went on before the video was recorded? How was this person acting before they suddenly decided that they were wronged and need evidence of this? I could go into a store and make a huge scene and get kicked out, then start recording as security removed me yelling about how they are being rude to me just because I am a girl. Chances are people would share the crap out of that, saying “don’t shop here they are sexist towards woman.” and bam. Half a truth has suddenly become the only truth in the eyes of social media.
But because it was posted online it must be true. And that’s honestly the scariest thought to think about. People don’t take the time anymore to look things up, read from actual sources AND to read both sides of an issue. We see something, we believe it, we share it. So when did facebook photos and peoples tweets become the news? My goodness, look up press releases and statements and find out where those posts actually came from.
Have you ever looked up one of those “bad” posts people have shared. For example a while ago it was huge news that a worker at a restaurant purposely put meat into a vegan meal. While they had screen shots of the actual post of the worker bragging about doing it, it was no where to be found online. And you can go to their profile real quick and find out if it’s on there or not. Now I know that things can be deleted but also, wouldn’t there be more of a trace of it than just that one screen shot? Things online are never truly gone after all.
And honestly, I get it. Because you see something and you feel like you need to be outraged and do something about it so you share it. But spreading false news and media lies won’t help anything. What does help is finding out what is really going on, sharing the actual news and then doing something accordingly. Because simply sharing a post claiming to be truth is only going to cause more hurt and confusion in the long wrong. Facebook isn’t our news source, social medias aren’t platforms of truth and literally anything can be falsified. We have some very passionate people who think by making posts on facebook they are helping the issues of the world. And it’s having an opposite effect.
So before going on a social media outrage rant, before sharing anything, before making claims find out more about it. Look stuff up, do your own research and make sure that you know for sure what you are sharing. It doesn’t take that much more effort to do a little homework, and it can do a world of good in the social media world.