I’ve had a couple of experiences of inadvertently sharing old or bad information in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d mention this.
The first of these was a missing person announcement that was published on Facebook by a local police department. I saw the post 2 minutes after they published and I dutifully amplified the call for help. One of my friends saw my post and amplified it as well. A follower of my page then stated that the man had been found, so I asked if she a URL, so I could verify the find. She did not but she pointed me to someone’s personal profile that said he had been found “but there was no further information”.
When I went back to the police department page, the post was still there but someone else had left a comment saying that they were late in posting. I asked for them to verify their info because I had already amplified their request. Another ten minutes went by and my post disappeared. How odd! So did the post of my friend and so did the police FB post!
There are 3 lessons to glean from this first incident.
- Facebook cascades deletions. If you post something that others amplify and you delete your post, you also delete all the shares that went with it, comments and all.
- If you’re going to delete a post, I suggest saying, “Oops! We made a mistake.” OK, something a bit more formal, perhaps – but don’t leave people guessing as to what happened to your post and theirs.
- Verify information, even if it comes from a trusted source. Everyone makes mistakes – even official entities.
The second thing that, regretfully, I posted is still there for all to see from yesterday. I received an e-mail from what I considered two reliable sources (one forwarded from the other) and I posted the information, as it was attributed to a local police department. Within about an hour, I got a response to the autotweet from my friendly, wonderful city EM, saying check out the topic on Snopes. Physician heal thyself. For all I remind people to check Snopes, I did not and the scam message was a hoax.
Unlike lesson #2 in the previous incident, I put an update at the top of my blog post, so that anyone clicking through could see that I was correcting the amplified misinformation. In addition, I clearly need to re-learn lesson #3.
No one has retracted the e-mail, thus far. Hopefully, they will. The EM that informed me of the hoax said he receive the same hoax e-mail 5 different times. Clearly, I’m not the only one who got caught.
Verify twice, post once. Verily.