The internet is the go-to source of information for most of us today, with social media being at the forefront. Although it can be a great way to stay up to date with all the latest news and information, it isn’t always the most trustworthy source and more often than not we get roped into believing something that has been completely made-up or manipulated.
Many of us rely on Twitter and Facebook to regularly update us and with its thousands of influencers who we follow and trust, it’s incredibly easy and almost instinctual to just believe that what we’re reading is true, without actually fact-checking and confirming it for ourselves.
Just last year, Twitter user Jonny Sun decided to play a genius little social experiment that exploited just how easily we can be made to believe in something that has been completely made up whilst simultaneously showing how people respond to such information.
This was the tweet:
omg.. Will O. Smith and Jada N. Smith pic.twitter.com/6Dz6d5YB5Y
— jomny sun (@jonnysun) 14 September 2015
Pretty believable right? He created a fake Google search (to show why the stars children are named Willow Smith and Jadan Smith) and immediately people began to spread the post, many hilariously claiming to have already known about it saying “how could you not have realised this?” and others just being shocked over the “revelation”.
— Ashley ♔ (@MJ_fans_unite) 14 September 2015
Why are people only just realising this? I’m so frustrated https://t.co/3Oz1s6qCq9
— Micaiah (@NotSoRatchet) 14 September 2015
Even better is the fact that many of Twitter’s joke accounts began to copy the tweet and posted it as their own, showing how people won’t even double check the facts of what they’re posting about as well as outing the dozens of plagiarists who constantly fail to produce their own work and instead use other people’s without even having the decency to credit them.
omg.. Will O. Smith and Jada N. Smith pic.twitter.com/tIjVHTfkPG
— WORLD STAR FANS (@WorIdStarLaugh) 16 September 2015
This is probably one of my favourite social experiments as it perfectly exploits the issue that’s predominantly present in our society in regards to automatically believing what we read is true, as opposed to taking 10 seconds of our time to double check the facts.
The power of social media really is remarkable, but more often than not it only takes a few shares of a post from a trusted user for it to suddenly go viral and for everyone to get wrapped up into it. Take the endless list of celebrity death hoaxes for example, if you’ve never seen a celebrity’s (fake) death trending on Twitter then where have you been for all these years? It’s quite remarkable how quickly something can spread and how instantly we’re made to believe it.
We’re so heavily reliant on the internet for our information and numerous news sites depend on link clicks and shares to help them make a profit and gain a good following, which is why they continuously come up with clickbait titles saying phrases such as “you won’t believe this!” just to get you to click onto the article. In addition to this, many don’t even check their sources for information and are constantly coming up with stories about celebrities that can’t be backed up and ultimately just cause more harm than good, so perhaps it’s time that we take a little more care in trusting everything that we read and call the publications out on it more.
So, should we believe everything that we read? In my opinion, no, probably not. But whether you choose to believe that is now up to you I guess. But, hopefully this has at least made you think a little more about what you’re reading online and how easily something can be falsely written and widely believed. All it takes is a couple of seconds of your time and a quick Google search to double check and then maybe you can avoid falling for the next social experiment or story.