“Viral” and “True” Are Not The Same Thing

A photo of a note from a father to his son has spread like a wildfire across Gawker, Mashable, Facebook, and other such sites. It has solicited many a strong reaction from users, usually something like inspiration or disgust.

One contributor to ReadWrite, however, has decided to entertain neither of those views in order to make a point.

The author of this article raises a question about the nature of all photos/ news events that achieve popularity in this manner: “It’s a great story, assuming it’s true. Is it? Who the hell knows.”

I was pleasantly surprised to see some good journalism put a crack in the veil of what might also be called “journalism” on the petri dish that is my Facebook feed. You’ve seen this type of thing, too– recall the awe-inspiring photos of “super-storm” Sandy from last year that were obviously faked but still managed to propagate like rabbits?

Remember when Facebook’s terms of use agreement changed and everybody shared that paragraph that we thought would protect our stuff from being misappropriated, and then to everyone’s embarrassment it turned out to be a hoax? That’s just one example of this non-reporting, there’s countless others I see every day that usually have to do with some knee-jerk topic like animal cruelty or the Westboro cult.

In summation: “Journalism…..wat r u doin…..journalism…..STAHP.”

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