“Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey” was written on the piece of paper held by Bon Jovi on December 19th after rumors of his untimely death, which began on Twitter, quickly flooded the social media outlets. I first the postings on Facebook as my “friends” shared their sadness at the “news” of his death, however; something about the postings didn’t seem right to me. My first thought was, “why didn’t I hear about this on the news?” and my first instinct was to Google search for more information. What I found was information about the hoax and that Bon Jovi was indeed alive and well at his home in New Jersey.
So why did so many not do the same before posting their condolences?
Social media has infiltrated our lives in ways in which we could never have dreamed of 5 to 10 years ago. Whether you are 1 or 101 you have most likely seen or heard of Twitter, Facebook and the like. These mediums are useful tools to connect with friends, family and business professionals, or to “follow” your favorite movie star or public figure. However, except for actual news outlets utilizing this venue, it is most likely not the place to get your news.
Here are some reminders of how to not get caught up, nor be the perpetrator of misinformation on your social media pages.
- If something you are reading doesn’t seem right, Google it – Usually if the information is connected with a rumor or hoax there will be several stories listed right away to dispel the story.
- Only share information and links from trusted online news sources on your page.
- If you see that someone on your network has posted misinformation use the direct messaging tools to politely let them know that they have the wrong information, as well as share a link to a story that rebuffs the rumor.By using the direct messaging tools you will keep their embarrassment to a minimum for having gotten caught up in the rumor mill.
- Research before you post.- Google Alerts are a great tool for sharing information from trusted sources. You can choose the keywords you want to find information on and Google sends email alerts to your inbox with links to articles on the subject.
Social media has changed the way in which we interact with the world around us and can expand our social and professional territories in very profound ways. That being said, if it is our only source of information we can become easily mislead by hearsay or innuendo.