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Why Trusting Information on the Internet Can Be Dangerous

People get into some pretty riled-up conversations that can escalate all too quickly on the Internet. All it takes is a well-placed meme or quotation or “expert” opinion of possibly questionable origin that purports a certain point of view; it can get picked up and passed along as quickly as measles in an unvaccinated population of kindergartners with equally devastating results. Long-standing friendships are dismantled and unlikely alliances are formed in the froth of its wake.

And it’s not like such a meme or quotation or “expert” opinion of possibly questionable origin needs even a rudimentary level of fact checking before scores of otherwise-rational human beings simply click to share and reshare it. It’s like the email that your aunt just sent you; in spite of the fact that you know it was debunked by Snopes back in ’02, there are tons of people who don’t know (or care) that it’s just an urban legend crafted around discrediting a political figure or religious perspective or philosophy or whatever. They’ll tell some friends, and so on, and so on…

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