A Hurricane of Misinformation

Ideally, humankind could use communication tools like Facebook to share important information with each other. But where’s the fun in meaningful messages? It seems to me that a large percentage of Facebook members just want to pass on the most ridiculous misinformation that they can find, even when it comes to something as potentially menacing as a hurricane.

Hurricane Irene gets an important historical note for reaching much farther up the coast than other summer storms over the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, it reached so high that Yale lost power for a few days, only managing to recover Sunday afternoon.

Still, the hurricane wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Some people died, some buildings were destroyed. Other than its ambitious size, it was a pretty normal hurricane.

Reading posts on Facebook and Twitter, however, could make you believe that this has been a monumental storm.

Part of the hysteria could come from actual journalists. Journalists have been pressured into posted information on Facebook and Twitter in real time. That makes it impossible for them to report concise facts or meaningful thoughts. Instead, they post the first things that pop into their heads. And like many people, the first reaction that they have is fear.

A post from a seemingly responsible journalist can get a lot of attention. In the moment, though, that journalist probably doesn’t any more than some random person in your apartment building. But posts from reliable news sources get reposted as if they are infallible.

This suggests that individuals reading posts from news sources should scrutinize every piece of information. I think it also suggests that Facebook isn’t the right medium for news. As long as readers keep reading, though, writers will keep posting regardless of how informed they actually are.

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~ by facebookhoaxes on August 29, 2011.

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