As the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter grow, the uses for such sites increases as well. Every day, new apps and games and features are added to these sites to make them better and more fun for users. However, a more sinister use has come about for these sites – the wide-spread propagation of hoaxes and scams.
These internet fibs and falsities range from the very tragic death of Morgan Freeman to a single Facebook status that can combat Facebook’s dreaded data ownership policies with a simple repost to your timeline. Sure, most of these examples are harmless enough, but there exist many other, far more harmful scams which internet users can fall victim to without proper information.
The first step is simple: internet users need to learn how to be informed consumers. Social media users are fast becoming one of the fastest distributers of information in the world, more than news corporations or magazines, and, while there is nothing explicitly wrong with this trend, it does give rise to information problems that had not existed before. With a simple click, information can be spread from one person to hundreds, and from those hundreds to thousands. Consider then, that the initial information was false (intentionally or not). If every person who saw that information believed it, then shared it to countless other users who also believed it, that misinformation would be spread to an unprecedented number of people.
Social media has presented our society with an opportunity to distribute information quickly and efficiently to audiences we would not have been able to reach only a few decades ago. However, “with great power comes great responsibility,” or so the saying goes, and if we are to make good use of this new medium, we must make sure we are informed consumers and producers of content.