Monday, February 4, 2013

The Age of Misinformation

A simple click and that contest on facebook has been shared.  Another click and that amber alert somewhere in another state or province has been shared.  With all of the information available in a few clicks and seconds away we still seem to propogate a whole bunch of junk. Bogus contests, fake reports on deaths of famous people (a la Bill Cosby for one), fabricated amber alerts, speeches that were never made and so on.  Why are we so willing to click and forward without even looking if it is real?
I know when the reports of Bill Cosby dying came about I took the time to look up more information, but I cannot remember if it was to see if it was real or to see what happened.  This being said, there was an amber alert, supposedly out of Quebec, that came my way and I immediately forwarded it without thinking.  A friend of mine on Facebook shared a link with me showing that this was a hoax, and one that had resurfaced on several occasions.  Another one was a piece that was supposedly written by Ben Stein about the White House use of the Word Christmas Trees.  I liked what was written but it was not the author it was reported to be. I still shared it without checking.
The ability to start and share rumours, make up stories, share false information or hatred in this day and age is shocking.  There is more and more a pressing need to teach not only our students, but also the general population about needing to filter the information being shared.  There is a tremendous need to change our mindset and not assume that because it is on Facebook or Twitter that is must be real.  Deaths of celebrities and amber alerts are usually top news items in google, which are easily verfied.  Contests by Disney and Costco are easily checked on their websites.  Why don't we do it?  Are we still stuck in the thought process that if it is written then it must be true?  How do we break ourselved out of this mentality?  Is it pure laziness, or based on false assumptions? How do we stop sharing junk, lies and misinformation?  It has to become second nature to question all information and to cross reference it before we reference it.  If there was ever a day and an age to be mindful about what information we are distributing, it is now.
If only those fake contests and stories werent so appealling!

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