Somewhere along the way the promising information superhighway became a whirlpool of misinformation and even mischief.
Previously news media were the gatekeepers who checked the facts before publishing a story.
Nowadays the pressure of immediacy and who’s first takes precedence over the facts.
Case in point: the now infamous case of the prank names for Asiana flight 214 pilots’ names.
Coverage of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 story has been nuts.
It seems news outlets are so desperate for news, no one is checking the facts at all.
Or if they are checking, they are not coordinating the dissemination of the information.
So far it appears for every possible explanation reported, there is a story that refutes it.
Imagine the frustration of the poor families who had loved ones on that plane.
We have become so accustomed to being able to search for information on our mobile devices we just assume whatever turns up in the results has be correct.
I saw this picture on a friend’s Facebook newsfeed.
My first suspicion was that it was a hoax.
First, the Obama administration has not been very open to news photographers at all.
The official White House photographer Pete Souza provides most of the images of Obama.
Somehow I couldn’t see President Obama’s handlers release a picture which would show him being insensitive in this very terrible tragedy.
The picture shows Malaysian witchdoctor or shaman riding a magic carpet and looking for the lost airliner and President Obama laughing .
If I can offer any advice about checking on the veracity of online stories, it’s this: if it’s a picture and it contains a celebrity or someone famous, you should be able to check this easily.
Google the name of the person and perhaps a few words that might describe the content of the picture.
In the above case, I typed “Obama +television” in my google search .
Immediately I could see the original or other versions of the very same picture.
Pranks abound online but Facebook seems to be where these pranks grow legs and go viral because it’s easier to just click “Like” or “Share” than to just do some research.
As netizens we owe it to ourselves and our friends to be a little more sophisticated and web savvy.
On a personal note, I agree with this NY Times story which highlights the lackluster leadership of those handling the Malaysian Airlines story.
It’s a big reason I chose to remain in the US after college.