Voices: Think before you share

Today’s digital age is exciting. For the first time in human history, the majority of the population has access to seemingly unlimited information online. Whether it’s online books, forums about different topics or shared articles found with friends, information is spread at lightning-fast speeds.

So I have to ask why. Why do so many people who can find answers with a simple Google search still share that Facebook article? You know what I’m talking about. The “such and such food is going to kill you” article. Or the “this celebrity couple is getting a divorce, but not really” article. Or the Onion article that is mistaken to be real.

It’s not just limited to Facebook. False information is as expected from the Internet as Webster’s chess team winning. And yet people still fall for the trap.

Look at the rise of the anti-vaccinations movement. Thanks to some social media users sharing Jenny McCarthy quotes and interviews (a model and actress that is most definitely not a medical professional), parents began to believe that vaccines are causing their children to develop autism. Long story short, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that measles has resurfaced with 189 cases in the U.S. this year alone.

Before the Internet, knowledge was shared via books, radio or TV programs. Today, we have the ability to create and share media in a newfound way. And with great power comes great responsibility. We have to be mindful of the information we’re sharing.

I’m not asking for a research paper whenever you want to share an article. After a simple Google search, I found multiple CDC studies and scientific journals stating there is no link between vaccines and autism. It’s that simple.

Back up your facts if you’re going to engage in a Facebook debate and cite your sources before you make that blog post. With a little research and a few extra minutes, you could be providing valuable knowledge rather than adding to the landfill that is online misinformation.

Story by Katie Blackstone

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