We all make mistakes. Sometimes in private, sometimes in public. Sometimes, we even publish them. So what do you do when you’ve spread misinformation (accidentally, of course…)? Do you keep still and hope noone notices, or do you try to erase the traces of it, or do you go public and try to correct the error? I’ve stumbled upon this interesting article, which investigates the issue. It’s based on personal, anecdotal evidence, but well argued, and I tend to agree with the conclusion:
However, the article falls short on one account: It is addresses mostly those working as (web) journalists, (web) publishers, researchers or others who have something original to share. But what about the majority of social media users? Let’s face it, the majority links or writes comments on articles published by others which they find interesting and worth sharing. This is great, because I have discovered a lot of fascinating stuff I would have never learned about without social media. Yet this also means that each and everyone of us has a responsibility: The responsibility to check what we re-tweet, re-post, link, or comment on. Before we pass it on. Spreading rumours was a bad enough habit in pre-digital times. Nowadays, it has the potential to cause even more damage. We should therefore not only pass on news based on the trustworthiness of the source. But we should always check the credibility of the message itself. While this may seem a trivial observation, and certainly was true in pre-digital times as well, I am convinced that it has become more important, and that we don’t act accordingly to it yet.