The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

They can’t put it on the Internet if it’s not true

Viewpoint by Rhiannon Saegert/managing editor

“Like and share or you have no <3!”

Nothing makes Facebook users roll their eyes harder. What, couldn’t even be bothered to spell out the word “heart”?

They scoff as they scroll past until they see a post or an article which inspires such disgust, such pure, primal rage that they abandon all ironic dismissal, turn on the caps lock and completely fail to question whether the post they’re arguing with is the truth.

Three hours later, some kind soul links them to a Snopes.com article, and they realize they’ve been lied to.

Nearly everyone I know has fallen for this kind of thing at least once. The Internet is, among other things, a giant game of telephone where all the kids playing are anonymous. This makes it incredibly difficult to figure out where half of these rumors come from and nearly impossible to blame one single person.

Sometimes, the culprit is simply a joke or a parody news story taken out of context. Occasionally, it’s just some well-meaning citizen who jumped onto their soapbox with only half of the facts. Sometimes, they’re just meant to be as inflammatory and rage-inducing as possible with no real goal in mind.

The most recent offenders all seem to be photos with misleading captions. Is that mechanically-separated chicken or Play-Doh? Is that footage of an MRI in process or a clip from Fringe? Are those, in fact, the president’s shoelaces? 

The only answer is to stop taking things at face value.

The Internet, with its anonymous and interconnected nature, is the perfect breeding ground for misinformation. Everyone wants someone to listen to what they have to say, but they’re much more likely to fabricate something when no one is around to make them cite reputable sources. Some people want an audience so badly, they’ll say anything.

That’s sad because nobody logs in with the intention of sifting through a bunch of half-truths to determine whether they should organize the resistance. Odds are they just want to catch up with their friends and watch some funny cat videos.

Even so, if it seems too blatantly awful to be true, it’s at least worth Googling.

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