Lots of Internet posts and emails are funny, interesting and really worth sharing--but only if they're true.
Anyone can make up a good story and ask us to share it because it sounds great and amuses and entertains us. But really, once we realize it is a hoax, isn't it kind of a downer?
When you see an interesting story, factoid or quote in an email you get from a friend or an article posted on Facebook, do you immediately "share" it with others? If so--then however knowingly, unconsciously or unwittingly it may be-- you are helping to make a hoax go viral.
and Another Thing…
Even though it was "such a cool thing to read," it still is only a hoax--a silly and almost disrespectful message to those who receive it, innocently trust you and then continue to spread your misinformation all over cyberspace.
There are lots of ways to take the extra three minutes to fact-check information that is forwarded to you or posted on social network walls. In addition to Google or any other search engine, there are several legitimate hoax-identifying Websites available which work just fine.
The site I like is www.snopes.com. There are also reliable sites at factcheck.org, truthorfiction.com and Yahoo.
Hoax emails are usually pretty easy to spot. The first clue is, they look and sound really great!
When you see pictures of sharks jumping onto shore to pull beachgoers back into the water, albino lions or great disaster photos, they are most likely Photoshopped pictures.
And those wonderful, heart-wrenching and brilliant quotes attributed to famous people like Thomas Jefferson, Andy Rooney and Robin Williams are usually attributed falsely by someone out there who has no life.
Maybe one of our resolves this New Year should be to fact-check those "really cool-sounding" emails we receive before we forward them on to others. It's the right thing to do, even though just sending them on to our friends without checking them first is quicker and makes us feel good!
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org