Stop Spreading Falsehoods!

 

It’s that time of year again.

Where the leaves change to multicolored bright, beautiful hues.

Where the cool, crisp air of early mornings slaps you awake as you walk to your car.

Where the dreaded sinus and allergies cause nagging headaches, runny noses, scratchy throats and annoying coughing spells.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last Sunday night, I thought I’d finally discovered the Holy Grail remedy to alleviate future coughing spells.

One of my friends shared the following image with one of her family members who must be suffering from this common discomfort.

Urban Legend

Pineapple juice sounds much tastier than Robitussin. If it can also fight infections and bacteria, this sounds like THE antidote to keep stocked up on this winter.

But like many of these images plastered all over Facebook and incessantly forwarded through email, it’s simply a myth.

My friend, like most others who use social media, fell victim to propagating falsehoods without recognizing the tell-tale signs of an urban legend or doing appropriate research.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when I see factually inaccurate or completely false information spread like wildfire across Facebook, email and other social platforms. Whether it is a home “remedy” for an ailment or political facts taken out of context, it drives me crazy.

How can you identify an urban legend, myth or factually inaccurate statement?

First, it sounds too good to be true.

In the image above, it says “pineapple juice is 500% more effective.” Large numbers usually indicate an exaggeration.

You’ve got to be skeptical.

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, hear on the radio, watch on TV, or otherwise.

Second, its source cannot be identified.

No reliable source of the information about the pineapple juice is provided in the picture, so that should at minimum prompt the question – Who verified this information?

Another friend posted on Facebook yesterday a myth about a virus spreading that targets Android phones. His post, which he had copied and pasted, said “and I heard this on a local radio station.”

Truth was, he didn’t hear it on the radio. And whomever he copied it from hadn’t either. No radio station was ever identified on which the “news” had been announced.

If a source is provided, evaluate its reliability and verify it.

What can you do to stop spreading falsehoods on the Internet?

Stop! Research! Then Post!

It’s all too easy to read something intriguing then click the Share button on Facebook or the Forward button in our email and blast it to everyone you know.

Ask yourself questions about what you read:
• Does this sound too good to be true?
• Do the numbers make sense?
• Where did this information come from?
• Can it be verified?
• Is it a trustworthy source?
• Is it taken out of context?

Do your homework by spending a few minutes researching trustworthy resources on the Internet.

Snopes.com is an excellent site that debunks many of the urban legends and myths seen online. Its team of writers thoroughly digs into the sources and facts of commonly shared posts, emails, and pictures and provides a summary supporting or disproving it.

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to check the facts and determined it’s truthful and useful to others, then and ONLY THEN feel free to share with your friends and family. Otherwise, keep on scrolling!

Scott Hartley, President/CEO

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