Don’t Add Fuel To The Fire

Social media goes into overdrive during large-scale events – whether that’s a sporting match, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.  It can be of tremendous help, but it can also cause problems.

The speed of the internet allowed up to the minute details of yesterday’s attack in London to be quickly broadcast.  It also meant individuals were able to let their loved ones know they were safe.  Using the internet to do that can be faster and more effective than calling or texting as the ‘bandwidth’ for the voice calls will be needed by emergency responders.

The downside: it also allows the easy sharing of rumours and speculation.  That can lead to confusion and the wrong people being identified.  That turns into witch hunts, and ruins lives, both the accused and the accusers.  In the recent past, people have been prosecuted for spreading ‘witch hunt’ type rumours over the internet.

When terror attacks happen, it’s all too easy to let your heart lead instead of your head.  You’ll find pages on Facebook specifically set up to take advantage of this.  Clickbait sites can quickly gather followers and popularity by posting images that speak to your emotions.  “Share this photo to show respect / catch the killer” is a common approach.  They tug at your heartstrings and hope you’ll share it without a second thought.

That is exactly what they want.  It leads to false information being spread, the vilification of specific groups of people and of course it raises that page’s profile.  Clickbait pages can take you to other suspect sites, generating revenue for them, and could compromise your profile information.

A good example: the right-wing group, Britain First has been using the image of the murdered soldier, Lee Rigby, on its social media platforms to further their cause. This is in spite of repeated requests from his family to stop using his name and image to fuel their agenda.

Even high-profile media sources can get it wrong sometimes. So unless you’re 100% certain you can trust the source (and maybe verify elsewhere), just scroll on by and don’t share the information.

Buzzfeed has published an article about the misinformation spreading online about this attack which is worth a read.

In distressing times, don’t let the bad guys win, you could be doing more harm than good.

 

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Share or Copy/Paste?

Just about everyone on Facebook will have a seen a post from a friend which is clearly not original but rather like a chain letter.  It’s often called a ‘viral message’.  Often they have included the phrase “in honour of someone who has…” or “I’m doing this for a friend to show…“.

In almost all cases, it asks you to ‘copy and paste this as your status and NOT share it.’

So why is that? Why don’t they want you to click the share button?  It’s certainly much easier to share a post then copy the text and create a new post of your own.   I bet if you asked your friend why they don’t want you to click share, I bet they won’t be able to tell you why.  Today’s blog post explains why.

Sharing The Post

If you click “share” on your friend’s post, the only ones who will see it are those people with whom your friend shares posts.  Your friends who are NOT friends with person whose post you are sharing will NOT see it. Confused?  Think of it this way:  if you have 100 friends but you only have 15 common, then only those 15 will see the post when you share it.  In addition, if the original post is removed, then ALL the  shares from other people are deleted as well.

If you’re trying to spread a message far and wide (regardless of the content), it’s not a very effective way of doing it. copypaste

Copy and Paste

If you copy the text and paste it into a NEW post on YOUR profile then ALL of your friends have the potential to see it. We say ‘potential’ as there’s no guarantee they will, due to other factors (their timeline settings, the ability to be a ‘friend’ but not follow’ etc. but that’s a subject for another post).

If you have 100 friends, that’s a potential 100 people who will see it.  If all those 100 friends then did the same as you, then all their friends could see the post. It’s easy to see how quickly the number of duplicate posts will spread.  If you delete your post, the other 99 who copy and pasted your post will still be there.

If the post is a scam or just simply untrue, then it is very hard to find out who started it in the first place.

Remember the advice your parents gave you? If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?  It’s exactly the same here.

Stop and think before you copy and paste a viral message.  Is there any actual positive effect of sharing it in the first place?  If not, then don’t. You may be doing more harm than good.

Of course, you are more than welcome to SHARE this post.  You can do so by clicking the buttons below.

Just The Facts Ma’am

#FakeNews is everywhere and it’s getting harder to tell what’s true and what isn’t.   Some sites are very clever and so convincing they fool many people.  It always makes me smile when they fool politicians who gleefully share the news, then end up having egg on their face afterwards.  If seasoned politicians, who SHOULD be media aware, are fooled, what chance does the average joe have?  

First, if you’re not sure it’s true, DON’T share it.  Not even to say “I’m not sure if it’s true or not but…”.   Once a false story is out on the net, it takes on a life of its own and people will believe it because “so and so shared it”.

Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.  Make your motto: “Be Sure. Then Share”. Get your facts checked first. This brief, but helpful video, from Channel 4 ‘s Facebook Page provides some helpful tips.  

When you’ve watched that, have a look at the LINKS page for a list of current satircal news sites.

Sharing Isn’t Always Caring

Sharing posts on social media is part of what makes social media interesting and fun. When you share photos of your pets, your child’s successes, your favourite movie and more, it all add to the experience.

It’s also very easy to share things that have emotional appeal despite not having any idea on the trustworthiness of the source.  Have you ever seen people share ‘missing person’ posts on Facebook?  Maybe you’ve seen your friends do this or have done it yourself. While the intention is good, are you certain you are sure of the source?  More often than not, the source is a ‘family member’ or ‘friend’ saying “we haven’t seen John Doe for two weeks now, please share this with everyone”.

Unless you know who is sharing the original missing person post, you might want to think again after reading this helpful advice from the Kindersley branch of the RCMP on their Facebook page.  Just like sharing dubious news without checking the source can cause problems, so can sharing missing persons post unless your 100% of the source.

rcmp

Something to think about in the future. If you see your friends sharing these types of posts, you may wish to let them know about the RCMP’s advice.