Social media is a great tool for spreading all kinds of information far and wide, free of charge. Everything you could possibly imagine or want to find and share with others, can be done so with the click of a mouse, the tap of a screen, or the press of a button.
However, these social networking platforms have increasingly become a tool for spreading MISinformation of all kinds. From small, locally targeted stuff that affects a single organization, community, region. To national and internationally targeted ones, which quickly get attention all over the world in a very short period of time.
One example of this, came out of the recent flooding in Calgary.
It was being spread on social media, that price gouging by business’s was occurring during the flooding. Some examples, were some small convenience store and Home Depot “overcharging” for a case of 24 water bottles (around $49.00), and the Calgary Co-op overcharging ($59.99) for a fruit tray.
I don’t know about the C-Store incident, but it turns out the Home Depot incident was true, though a mistake (mistakes happen with technology. The only reason this was so overblown WAS the flooding in the city). As for the Calgary co-op incident:
When it comes to a meme (well, in this case, a video) that garnered both international attention AND backlash, the most recent one I can think of, is the video out of Hawthorne California, of a police officer “murdering” a dog.
WARNING: Content in the video is NOT for all audiences
When this video hit the net, it went viral quickly, and picked up views from all over the US and the world. And it got people everywhere angry at the seeming “injustice” of shooting an innocent dog. Most people just vented back and fourth on social media, but others went as far as contacting the Hawthrone PD directly, at times even going as far as leaving death threats (oh the brilliance of it!).
Cyber-warrior group Anonymous even picked up on it, releasing contact numbers for one of the officers involved, and warning the HPD that they were now in there sights.
Then, around a week or so later, the Hawthorne PD released ANOTHER cell phone video of the incident. This video shows in more detail, the interactions leading up to, and the shooting, itself.
I will admit, before writing this piece, I had watched neither video, and had no inkling to watch either.
One of the things I have learned over the years as a citizen of the world wide web, is that the most popular, is usually the most stupid. And most of the time, when I ignore this and view some “great” viral video recommended by someone, I usually end up remembering WHY I came up with that personal rule.
In any case, having viewed both video’s, I have once again confirmed this (imagine that LOL). Though I did not even need the 2ed video to confirm what I had already deduced WITHOUT watching even the first. But both video’s showed me a couple things:
1.) The guy was being an asshole to the cops and asking for exactly what he got.
2.) The officer was right to pull the trigger. It does not matter if the dog was protecting its owner, IT WAS A THREAT.
3.) Why was the back window of the car opened so wide? It would seem that would be an obvious problem.
My conclusion before watching either video, was that it was a public over-reaction based on a tiny piece of single-angled information, which is only a part of a bigger picture. And imagine that, I was right.
These types of incidences don’t always gain the national and international attention that the above described ones do, but small localized ones are getting more and more common. And peoples reputations and career’s are often being tarnished and lost because of it.
Though blame does go to the people that perpetrate such smear campaigns, I also point a big finger at those who PERPETUATE them. Why is sharing the information more important then actually checking if its correct?