Years ago I wrote an article called, “Britney Spears is Dead or the Importance of Verifying Online Information.” In that article I pointed out how people are fooled by fake information online and then share that information as if it is legitimate. In some cases journalists are fooled and give further credence to a false story.
Today we have an example of a journalist who checked before she posted and found a smart way to use the hoax pictures all the same. Credit to the journalist. But many people are being fooled by this story, so it provides an opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of verifying information before passing it along.
Was the Royal Wedding a “True Cinderella Story?”
A story has been circulating since not long after the royal wedding comparing the clothing worn by the celebrants to clothing worn in the Disney movie, “Cinderella.”
When I first saw the story I, like many people, thought aww, isn’t that sweet. And then I didn’t think much more about it. I didn’t share the story, nor did I check into whether I could believe it. Mainly because I didn’t much care. I wasn’t one of those who watched the wedding.
Not long after, I happened to be looking at the site Snopes.com, a site that exists to debunk hoaxes. I tend to read Snopes from time to time because I find it both amusing and instructive. And there I saw the truth. Someone decided, as people do, to alter the clothing worn by the characters in the Disney movie to make it look as if they were wearing similar clothing and colors to the royal party.
In the meantime, I have watched the pictures spread like wild fire over the Web as people share the romantic notion of a true Disney wedding. Believing the “fact” that the movie and the royal wedding match up, and how sweet is that?
Fakes Stories are a Problem
People believe fake stories. That is why sites like factcheck.org and snopes.com exist. If the fake story is about some pictures in a movie, not such a big deal. If the hoax story is about crimes, behavior of political figures, potential terrorist events, or serious illnesses; belief in fake stories becomes a very big deal indeed.
It has been a long time since I trusted the news to get a story just right. If a story smells a bit odd to me I immediately check elsewhere to see if it is true. I also frequently check my friends’ posts on Facebook before I believe them, and even worse, share them with others. I suggest you do the same, before you end up helping to spread a hoax.
To my mind we all have an obligation to check before we believe. We can’t expect others to do it for us.