It’s that time of the year again when the fake shark photo comes out.
After Houston, Texas took a beating from Hurricane Houston, more than 30,000 people were forced to seek shelter elsewhere as the raging storm tore through homes and left others under water. Flood waters were so high that even trucks and traffic lights could not avoid being submerged by rising water.
Unfortunately, it’s also a year where fake news is rampant, as more and more “writers” make it a habit of publishing fake content for a living, with some earning thousands in ad revenue for stories they write.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of gullible people out there, and many don’t take the time to fact check stories being published. As many smaller blogs take rise, it’s hard to really tell what’s true or not, especially when bigger brands sometimes make big mistakes due to poor research.
With that in mind, it is still up to journalists to be responsible when disseminating information.
Meet Scottish “journalist” and blogger, Jason Micheal. He tweeted the following image via his Twitter account as part of an “experiment”, amassing over 47k+ retweets and 68k+ likes.
Unfortunately a lot of people believed him as they wildly tweeted away the image. The problem I think is that in the heat of the moment (re: the disaster in Houston) and the fact that water levels reached as high as traffic lights in some areas, viewers might have not given it a second thought given the somewhat plausible scenario.
Of course when you really think about it, the likelihood of this happen is slim to none. Unfortunately people tend to share misinformation when they are in the moment, and that’s how a false news like this gets shared.
As a journalist, you have to realize that not everyone is going to do the level of investigation required to determine whether something is true or false. Yes, it’s something we should do, but most people simply don’t.
Therefore, it is your duty as a journalist to look out for people like this by also avoiding the spread of misinformation, especially in critical times like this.
I guess poor ole’ Jason needed more followers, so why not “experiment”?
Jason, we get it, many people are naive. We already knew the answer to your exercise even before it started.
Here’s to hoping that up and coming journalists rise above Jason’s man-child behaviour.