Tragedy, Social Media, and Misinformation

When a soul-stirring tragedy occurs, social media becomes super-charged with excitement and rage. (And rightly so; because what follows is a general outcry that helps to shape the society).

However, this also creates an avenue for unscrupulous persons to disseminate lies and half-truths. They do this by quoting people out of context, manipulating (even fabricating) information to deceive the clueless public.

They take advantage of the general emotional tumoil to spread misinformation. When the multitude take to their social media platforms to express their grievances, they become easy prey to their sensational lies.

So, amidst the vociferation of the people, you’re sure to find some misinformation—purposely designed to vilify & slander—intensifying, but also misdirecting the general outcry of the people. What’s more, there’s hardly any foundation for the misinformation you come across online.

One of the greatest sources of problems in our society arises from people having loads of wrong theories in their heads – often theories that are critical of others – that they won’t test by speaking to the relevant people about them. Instead, they talk behind people’s backs, which leads to pervasive misinformation.

Ray Dalio

This has made me to further understand and appreciate the importance of appropriate referencing in academic work.

Given the potency of social media, it is imperative that such a requirement be imposed on viral contents. I, for one, look forward to the time when every piece of information circulating online can EASILY be traced to the source.

Admitted, it is still our duty as individuals to investigate everything we come across. But when emotions are flying all over, you can expect people to fall hook, line, and sinker for lies and half-truths.

Fake news and misinformation are detrimental, not only to our social harmony, but also to our moral values.

Remember, even when a confirmed culprit is on trial, it is a crime to present fake evidence against them; let alone disseminating misinformation for calumnious purposes.

“Beware of ignorance when in motion; look out for inexperience when in action, and beware of the majority when mentally poisoned with misinformation, for collective ignorance does not become wisdom.”

William J. H. Boetcker

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