The irrefutable truth about Facebook

Last updated 12:34 29/06/2012

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.

Say what you want about Monica Lewinsky but she's still in her thirties...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!

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samm   #1   12:41 pm Jun 29 2012

I do the pedantic know it all thing too when it suits, for the same reason. Wrong is wrong, derp is derp, woo is woo and untruths are untruths, especially when there is an agenda behind it.

Doesn't seem to bother my friends though, since most of them are pedantic know it alls as well

Qweenkaren   #2   12:54 pm Jun 29 2012

Please please can you make this a regular feature on your blog... 'Informing the Misinformed'? I am much too passive to miscorrect my friends with their random reposting of BS. I just look at scroll... every now & then if I notice someone regularly being moronic I will "unsubscribe" from them. At the moment the posts which have me most skeptical are the ones that say something like "only 5% of the population can read this, if you can repost it" Personally I think everyone can they are just BS to get reposted.

Karlos   #3   01:01 pm Jun 29 2012

Yeah the Back To The Future one had me confused for a second so I had to Google the dates from the movie to check. It was October 2015.

Still, it's not that long until 2015 so I'll be looking to order my Hoverboard soon!

k arthur   #4   01:07 pm Jun 29 2012

This XKCD catroon is for you, then

Angel   #5   01:15 pm Jun 29 2012 - I encourage people to like their Facebook page to get the posts about all the latest scams & viral crap doing the rounds on FB.

And for all chain emails!

Chilli   #6   01:26 pm Jun 29 2012

Ha yep - anybody remember a guy called Kony? That whole thing got my rage levels pretty high because it actually involved people giving money to a cause they didn't bother to properly research.

Then there's the semi-regular celebrity death hoaxes. People need to stop using Facebook for news.

Nemo   #7   01:27 pm Jun 29 2012

Oh Noes! People are WRONG on the internets! I MUST correct them!!!

But, yeah, I spend some time pointing people at when the latest two-headed children from Mars dreck disgorges into my inbox.

Mike L   #8   01:35 pm Jun 29 2012

As a previous victim of some internet hoaxery some years ago. My "hinky-o-meter" is set to high alert and I too correct BS whenever and whereever it is found. So if you want to continue on your mission of correcting all internet BS then you go right ahead Miss Moata McRightypants.

PollyA   #9   01:43 pm Jun 29 2012

Easy answer - do not Facebook. The hours and grief I save by being invisible to Facebook are totally worth it. My friends and family know where to find me.

AT   #10   01:48 pm Jun 29 2012

I've pretty much unsubscribed from everyone who regularly posted that sort of thing because it was driving me crazy. The ones that get me going now are the "breast cancer awareness" ones like the colour of your underwear or where you put your purse. It's not a game, people, and it's not something that should be "a secret from the boys to keep them guessing". If you're serious about breast cancer awareness, self examine and keep healthy. Quite apart from the fact that I think we're all reasonably aware that breast cancer exists, and more awareness isn't what we need, it's early detection and research. Sorry, my sister is even more ranty about this than I am....

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