The irrefutable truth about Facebook

00:34, Jun 29 2012

Oh Facebook. You have brought so much into my life. The ability to decline invitations without having to actually speak to the person who invited me. The satisfaction of ignoring a friend request from an ex-boyfriend. The joy of being tagged in pictures of meerkats until the end of time. 

But what you've also brought me is a dilemma. Because one of the things I've been struggling a bit with lately, and this is probably just because of the kind of person I am, is the misinformation.

Maybe it's just my librarian tendencies but I have an almost uncontrollable need to correct blatantly inaccurate material when I see it. And boy do I see it. All through my Facebook feed.

A few weeks ago it was a picture of a child in a hospital bed that the associated text claimed had been involved in a terrible accident. And if you "shared" this picture then Facebook would donate a dollar to a charity so that the poor child could get bionic limbs or a pony or something. Which of course set my "hinky-o-meter" off. I'm not saying that Facebook is blind to the plight of child amputees. I just think if they were going to donate money to this kind of cause, they would probably go about it in a different way. And that the quality of the image would be better. And that it would probably have originated from their official page.

After about 7 seconds of Googling I found a page claiming that this story was a hoax and linking to the original source of the image, which was in an online newspaper article about a child who had meningitis. So I posted a comment to this effect with a link.

Then there was the "Rachel Ray eats her dogs" debacle which I also called out for what it was. Namely, a combination of poor photoshopping and the inherent need a lot of people have to laugh at Rachel Ray. I don't like her much either but I can't ignore the evidence of my own eyes.

Advertisement

Yesterday it was a photo of Monica Lewinsky, claiming that it was her 50th birthday. She's 38. I mean, she was a White House intern in the 90s. How could she possibly be 50 years old now? A quick check on Wikipedia confirmed her age. Again, I commented and added a correction.

And today it's the photoshopped still from Back to the Future II that says that June 27, 2012, is the future date that Marty McFly travelled to. It's not. And do you know what made me Google that? The fact that we went through exactly the same thing TWO YEARS AGO.

And the dilemma is this: do I correct misinformation where I see it (along with sources) and annoy everyone with my firmly pulled up McRighty-pants, or do I let the falseness just sit there tainting the world with its mendacity? Because I have a very hard time with letting falseness stand unchallenged. I really do struggle with letting a blatant lie or untruth slide past...even if it does make me look like a pedantic know-it-all.

I am a pedantic know-it-all. I stopped being in denial about that years ago.

Of course anyone can be caught out by highly shareable, chuckle-worthy images. We've all goofed with this at one stage or another but sometimes I wonder if my "hinky-o-meter" is just more highly tuned than everyone else's.

So what do you think? When it comes to your Facebook feed, how much of it is reliable information and do you sometimes pause before sharing to check that something's kosher? Should I continue in my Miss McRightypants endeavours to correct or will that just piss everybody I know off?

Also, brownie points for anyone who gets the reference in today's title. And no Googling because that's cheating!

» Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.