We all are familiar with the word “rumor.” Rumor runs faster than anything else. Long ago before there was Internet, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we had only rumor. It was like mouth-to-mouth information. If 10 people killed in some incident, it becomes 20 and then 30 and so on.
We used to say jokingly, “A hawk has taken someone’s ear.” You circulate that in social media and suddenly you have 5,000 followers. It goes viral. You start getting calls, emails, text messages inquiring about your status. Someone will offer to help to shoot the hawk to get back the ear. A surgeon is ready to stitch your ear and so on.
You don’t want to think rationally whether it is possible? Did it make the news? If it happens, it is obviously newsworthy.
It’s human nature. If we pass an information to someone, it will end up unrecognizable after going through 100 ears.
Social media is no better. There is no ethical guidelines for social media. You can make up a story according to your affiliation, biasness or whatever and spread it as you wish through social media.
Plenty fake news was in circulation prior to the presidential election.
With every technology, there are abuses. How do we curb those abuses? Think about YouTube which is universally praised for its academic and entertainment value. However, people are posting porno, too, on YouTube.
Many of the follow-up comments to some articles is not healthy language.
My wife is a Facebook activist. She has a lot of followers. Sometimes she complains about dirty commenters, and she delisted them. Despite the misinformation and abusive language she encounters, she’s happy with her Facebook activities. It’s made her a better writer.
Jiben Roy, a native of Bangladesh, teaches chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences at Mississippi University for Women. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.