Spreading misinformation through a click

Besides the droves of women who mistakenly believe they are waterfowl, doctors who refuse to operate on children unless they are “liked” enough and invitations to raise digital crops, social media websites like Facebook are overrun with false statements that the poster claims are facts.

People see pictures, comments and videos that others have posted and take them as facts without researching what was said.  If the person likes the post, he or she will re-post for his or her friends. This cycle continues until people across the country believe the false or partial information is true.

The recent gun control fracas provides a number of excellent examples of this from both people who want stricter laws and those in favor of the current firearm laws.  Supposed facts and even quotations from famous people like Morgan Freeman have been spread across Facebook since December.

However, any amount of research beyond clicking on the link for the post reveals much of the information in them as partial-truths at best.  Many times, the stories come from either ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative sources that focus on the information that makes their side seem correct.

Anyone who wants to have an reasonable debate with someone on an issue he or she feels strongly about should learn the true facts from both sides of the issue instead of just reading posts about it on Facebook and repeating the false information.  Not only will knowing actual facts make the person seem more intelligent, it will also help to make the other person doubt his or her own knowledge of the issue.

Major controversies are not the only topics that fall victim to false information on social media. Different times people have posted about celebrity deaths that have then traveled through the web.  People from Eddie Murphy to Bill Nye to John Cena have been declared dead over Facebook and Twitter.  Users see others posting about the death and send out condolences without actually checking to see if said person is still alive. There are even websites like Fakeawish.com that generate fake celebrity death articles.

With a little research on the topic, a good portion of the phony information on social media sites can be debunked.