Fake News Goes Viral

by | Sep 14, 2017

Every day on Facebook, I see wrong information being shared. It usually starts out as someone posting a piece of content, and then the viral influence takes over and suddenly I’m seeing 15 people sharing something that a simple Google search will denounce. It bothers me, and it should. Fake news is not just a political problem, it’s a responsibility problem. The people who share the posts generally believe it’s true information when it often isn’t.

Last week, ¬†with Hurricane Irma approaching, my Facebook feed was FULL of different variations of “Stick your valuables and important paperwork in your dishwasher to survive the hurricane because dishwashers are watertight.” It’s important to note that I only have 300 Facebook friends and that only 2 of them live in Florida or any bordering state. And yet I saw this post shared by no less than 20 people, none of whom were in the path of the hurricane.

A quick Google search proved this to be false information. I really hope that a lot of people didn’t lose important records because they trusted their dishwasher over, you know, a zip lock bag in a backpack that they took with them when evacuating. Do you take the time to research it for yourself, or do you trust your cousin’s wife’s sister to only post factual information and stick a bunch of vital records into your dishwasher?

Not every picture or post or story that goes viral is false, but inaccurate information tends to gain a lot of traction in stressful or emotional situations, and it’s important that everyone takes responsibility for the content they choose to share. Before you hit the share button on that next “unbelievable” picture or “incredible” information, take the time to make sure it’s real and true. Facebook can’t fight fake news on its own.

The link below contains more of the fake or inaccurate posts that went viral during Hurricane Irma. When it comes to fighting fake news, here’s what they recommend you ask yourself before you hit that share button.

  • Have I heard of the publisher before?
  • Is this the source I think it is, or does it sound a bit like them?
  • Can I point to where this happened on a map?
  • Has this been reported elsewhere?
  • Is there more than one piece of evidence for this claim?
  • Could this be something else?


Content Marketing Specialist

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Sarah recently relocated to Grand Rapids from metro Detroit, by way of Southern Indiana. She stumbled into a career in marketing accidentally with a focus on the outdoor industry and hunting. She has never been hunting, and her worst memories as a kid are of attempted camping trips. Her hobbies and interests include binge-watching sitcoms, teaching herself WordPress and Adobe Creative Suite, and playing Dungeons and Dragons. She is obsessed with understanding BitCoin, even though she knows she never will.