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Social media users are among the worst for clicking share absent-mindedly. It was only this morning that I saw street artist Banksy has been arrested yet again (he hasn’t). Lately we’ve also seen a three-breasted woman, reports of being able to charge your new iPhone in a microwave, and so many crazy things reported about the latest Ebola outbreak.
Everyone can afford to be a little more skeptical about online reporting. Here are some top tips:
1. Evaluate it’s likelihood.
I remember a couple of years ago there was a story that surfaced that claimed ‘SAMSUNG PAYS APPLE $1 BILLION SENDING 30 TRUCKS FULL OF 5 CENT COINS’. They didn’t. They most definitely didn’t. You couldn’t fit $1billion in 5 cent coins into 30 trucks. You couldn’t even fit them into 1000 trucks. And you most certainly couldn’t get your hands on that many coins in the first place. This interesting article from the Guardian explains in more detail why.
2. Evaluate the source.
Just because something was retweeted thousands of times on Twitter doesn’t make it true. Actually, more credible sources sometimes get it wrong too. The problem with journalism in the digital age is stories are shared so quickly and can be written by absolutely anyone that myth can easily be taken as fact by thousands, even millions of people. So what is a good rule to go by? “If a story is viral, truth may be taking a beating”.
3. Is it satire?
There are some really excellent satirical news sites out there. I still see people sharing these articles with shocked emoticons or outraged tag lines attached. Then about ten or so of their friends replying with equally angry comments before someone has to point out their mistake.
4. Do I really know what I’m sharing?
The internet has exploded with info graphics and memes lately. Anyone can create one, and anyone can make them for their own agendas. This means that if you see a picture of a melancholy pensioner with a caption that angrily states his pension is less than that of an immigrant, alongside some facts and figures, it’s probably best that you stop to consider the bigger picture.
One of the biggest culprits of this is Britain First and their ruthless Facebook campaign.
As Another Angry Voice states, “Britain First use populist infographics to dupe unsuspecting people into following their hate group. In between Islamophobic rants and immigration lies the Britain First admins intersperse images that the majority of people agree with (infographics decrying animal cruelty, anti-paedophilia memes, support our troops/football team memes, don’t leave dogs in hot cars memes …) so that ordinary people get hooked in to following their page.”. Read the full article here.
Ease of communication with millions around the world is one of the most exciting things about the world we live in today. Just use the power wisely. Remember George Orwell’s novel 1984, and the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history. We were always told “don’t believe everything you read”, which is now more relevant than ever.
There’s so many things I hate about Facebook. I think we all despise it in some way. The lack of privacy, the endless inane drivel, the social politics… the list goes on.
I stick with it though, but why?
Half of me feels forced. It would be foolish to exclude myself completely from this big player in the social networking scene, at least for now. The other half sticks around because I wouldn’t want to miss the few pieces of absolute gold found somewhere amongst the dirt. Scrolling past the selfies, food porn and cryptic status updates begging for attention, I stumbled upon the two best Facebook pages I follow.
- Humans of New York – Posts that include a photograph of a person and a caption. That’s all there is to it. The person will be snapped in New York, mainly in the street going about their daily business, and the caption will be a quote from the person. It is beautiful, and so well put together that every post is intriguing and thought-provoking in a way that I never thought possible. People are wonderful things, mostly, and they all have their own stories, opinions, beliefs, issues, heartache and love. Take a look. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Full website here).
- I f***ing love science – or the more child/work-friendly Science Is Awesome. I want to read at least 90% of the things posted on this page. It’s the fun and interesting side to science; new discoveries, amazing facts, microscopy images, animations of the way things in the universe work. It’s just a great collection of things. (Full website here).
It’s worth staying just for the exposure to these delights (of course, StumbleUpon is much better at this…). Do you have a favourite Facebook page that never fails to brighten your day? Let me know in the comment box below.
Take a look at your home screen and check out the app shortcuts you have on there. Are they your favourites/most used? I tend to update mine regularly, and switch them around to fit in with whatever wallpaper I happen to have that month.
MyFitnessPal during a health kick, Candy Crush Saga (see app review) during a particularly slow week, but there are a few that stick.
Facebook being one of them. Everybody has Facebook on their phone. How would you ever know how great your old schoolmate’s life is now without it? Check out this great list of statuses everybody writes and everybody hates on Mashable.
Twitter is another of those stay-forever apps. There is a lot of great content linked on Twitter, even if you have to sift through all the rubbish first. I’ve found some great resources on Twitter that would never be on the top pages of a Google search. Although there isn’t a better starting point than Google, which is why that stays on my home screen too.
How did people survive pre-search-engine? I remember a time, back when I was a very young girl, when I would ask my mum the spelling or definition of a new word and we would run off to the bookshelf and look it up in a dictionary. Now, anything you want to know, Google it. The internet: simultaneously making knowledge more accessible and people more lazy. Don’t even get me started on txt spk.
The BBC News app is a regular. I like to keep up-to-date with current affairs. I like to know what’s going on in the world, and the app is brilliantly simple to use.
As for Instagram, I’ve rather lost interest in it lately. This one might not last much longer on the list of usuals. It is primarily pictures of people’s dinners, people on exercise machines, posing in bathroom mirrors and “look at my new lipstick/dog/sofa”. All stuff that is interesting to the person taking the photograph, and of little/no interest to anyone else. There’s a great list on Buzzfeed illustrated by artist Joanna Zhou about the types of Instagram photos.
I also keep O2 Priority Moments on there, not because I use it a lot but just to remind me to check it. I would hate to think I was missing out on a free coffee. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to load though, and sometimes I lose interest before I’ve even made it past the loading screen.
What apps do you keep on your home screen? What is your favourite? Leave your comments below.
I’ve been addicted to this app, Candy Crush Saga, since its 2012 release. Originally a Facebook game, it is theraputic as well as frustrating. King has done a good job of keeping me hooked, but I hate it too. I’ve spent too long shuffling little sweetie icons around my phone but somehow I can’t stop!
I only have two rules.
- Never ever post anything to Facebook (a great way to annoy your buddies).
- Never pay for any upgrades. I say this because where is the fun and sense of triumph in just paying your way through the game? It’s possible, no matter how many weeks/months it takes to complete that one level… and a lot of people have been caught out spending a little here and there, to find they end up with a bill that could have paid for their groceries that month.
I would advise not to even download this app unless you spend most of your days looking for things to fill your time with. I wish I hadn’t. I’m now stuck in an endless cycle of brightly coloured sweets. At the time of writing, I’m on level 320 and I would hate to find out how much time I’ve spent on the thing. It’s brilliant though. It’s so addictive and it is cleverly designed to give you a little victory just at the moment you are about to give up. The little animations in-between games are delightful and the whole app looks and works fabulously.
Try it, or don’t, but I can’t be held responsible for any time lost by downloading this app.
It has recently been uncovered that hundreds of accounts have been set up on Wikipedia to create and edit pages to contain biased and promotional material. Wikipedia editors have expressed their shock at this ‘new’ information. The rest of us, however, are not surprised in the least.
The majority want to comply by the rules of Wikipedia, in the interest of this brilliant collective global information source, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be those few who want to use it for their own gains. There will always be this issue with a site in which anyone can come along and edit a post. It is Wikipedia’s brilliance as well as flaw.
There was a Dispatches documentary that aired just a couple of months ago uncovering the vast amounts of fake accounts that plague Facebook and Twitter, and the people paid pennies to like well-known, seemingly reputable brands.
We all know this goes on, and it is increasingly hard to combat. Damage to a company’s reputation is probably the main deterrent. So accusations of this activity really need to be investigated. But as an individual, there is something we can do – take ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and anything written on the internet, books or any media with a pinch of salt.
As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read”.