Please stop and think before you reroute information. Every time you ReTweet and rebroadcast a bit of data you are publishing information further and further out there. Everyone who gets your feed will see it and then if they push it, and so on. You have a responsibility to your own reputation to be careful.
I’m not talking “stop spreading that bad joke” no. I mean “stop spreading false news.” I’ve seen this done time and time again. Someone makes an assertation, in 140 characters of less. There is no wiggle room in it, it is just “This is bad and happening!” and it gets picked up. An hour later there are a million copies of it in the wind – except they’re all wrong. Because that bad thing didn’t happen, didn’t happen that way and so on.
Now the person who first said it didn’t mean anything. They probably weren’t trying to spread false news around, they were just wrong. They didn’t think. And then the same down the chain, including you, as the news spreads and spreads. It’s still bullshit and false information and possibly damaging to a brand or person, but hey (and yes damaging brands sounds like “who cares” but if you help scream at companies you rely on and make it harder for them to be able to do the things you like and call them out for things they didn’t even do – why would you think they will listen in the future – all you do it hurt yourself). It spreads.
It spreads because no one stops and thinks. Or they spread it because they “didn’t think it was right” and wanted to push it out as a way of asking, I guess. Though all that does is make the statement until someone stops you to tell you that you’re wrong, which sounds like something that could be dealt with through asking.
And frankly the number of people who ever spread the correct news after being wrong is minimal.
These are bad and dangerous habits. They ensure that, the more you do this, the less you will be trusted. It’s a crying wolf situation. If I can’t trust, for a second, that you check damming news you push out, I will simply refuse to believe you at all. At which point, the more you do it the more you become noise. Noise gets shut off, by everyone, after a while.
If you want to communicate, communicate. But if you also spread information, respect the information and do ten seconds of legwork. If something feels off, don’t just push it along the chain. Stop and ask and check. And yeah, sometimes no matter what mistakes are made. It’s natural. It’s human. I am not saying never be wrong, I’m saying minimize it if possible. And if you read this and decide “Pfft, fuck you, why should I care if I’m wrong?” then please, for the love of god, vanish from my sight. Do us both the favor.
But this is also why “social media” will not replace actual journalists. There is fact checking, there are editors, there is a reason all news isn’t instant. It’s because they have to care about being right as much as they do being there at all. And when they don’t they either get fired or become jokes.
If you intend to push news around – guess what – same standards hold. Get used to it.