Melissa’s Blog

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IRVINE, CA - JULY 26: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

I’ve done it. I’m willing to bet money you’ve done it. I can pretty safely say the majority of social media users have at some point done it. I’m talking about sharing a story with false information without properly verifying it.

Is it because we want to be the first to inform? Do we want to seem like we got the scoop before anyone else? And at what expense are we doing this? I’ve been thinking about these very questions a lot lately. Particularly since the tragic news broke that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and 7 others passed away in a helicopter crash over the weekend. The one piece of information that really broke me was the possibility that Kobe’s wife Vanessa heard the horrific news from TMZ and not from the police or first responders. While this piece of news has not been verified, the simple possibility of it happening is absolutely disgusting. Hence I ask the question: Does social media do more harm than good?

Sure social media is an amazing tool for information, to keep in touch with friends and family, promotion and branding among other things, however there have been several instances where stories have been shared under false pretenses. This leads to false rumors being spread and people who you consider to be fairly intelligent believing their favorite celebrity had just passed away when in actuality it was a hoax. I mean think about it…how many times have you seen celebrity death hoaxes online? How many times have you seen that infamous New York Times article about Tom Brady signing a contract extension with the Patriots shared in the past few weeks when it was actually a story from August that has no relevance to his current situation? As a matter of fact, there are several parody websites dedicated to printing fake stories simply to entertain and for “click bait.” Many of these stories are shared on social media as truth, filling our minds up with false information. I can’t count how many times we’ve been talking about stories and headlines in the studio when at least one of us thought something was true when it really wasn’t. So again I ask: Does social media do more harm than good?

I asked this very question on my Twitter and IG pages last night and I have to admit, the results did surprise me. After receiving hundreds of votes, the consensus is an overwhelming YES! 88% of you believe so. So what does this mean? Would you give up social media? Personally, I would not. However I believe there is something we can do. BE. MORE. RESPONSIBLE.

I would love to share a post that a friend of the show shared yesterday that can help us all become more responsible. Thank you @RealEmmyMorgan for this. “How to Spot Fake News” Consider the source. Read beyond the headlines. Check the author (are they credible). Supporting the sources (does the information actually support the story) Check the date (reposting old stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events). Is it a joke? Check your biases. Ask the experts (consult a fact checking site).

Does social media do more harm than good? Possibly. However that doesn’t mean we need to give it up completely. Keep searching your favorite celebrities. Keep live tweeting award shows. Keep sharing your pictures from your latest adventure. But in regards to sharing information, if we all just go an extra step to become a little more responsible, the world of social media will be a more accurate and compassionate place.