We Are Screwed: How Social Media Will Kill Us All

I have little doubt that Twitter and Facebook will be the undoing of our society.

That’s kind of a remarkable statement, given that these tools bridge relationships in a way we really have never seen before.

While Twitter and FB are capable of spreading legitimate information with unprecedented speed, they just as easily become vehicles for propagating pure misinformation. Misinformation which propagates at the same unprecedented speed.

The Haiti earthquake has provided a perfect illustration of this.

Twitter and Facebook are abuzz today of claims that UPS is shipping goods to Haiti for free, and that airlines are flying doctors and nurses to Haiti for free. Social media users, requiring no due diligence of themselves whatsoever, lulled into some kind of ‘everything at face value’ mentality, are blindly re-tweeting and re-posting this in epidemic fashion.

And of course, nothing of what is being re-tweeted and re-posted is true. Nothing is being shipped for free. There are no free flights. But there are now millions of people who believe otherwise, and they were led to believe so extraordinarily quickly, preferring their emotional response to a crisis over old fashioned common sense. Oldest trick in the book, getting older every day, and never showing any worse for wear.

Twitter and FB hoaxes are by no means a new phenomenon. But we’ve yet to see our wonderful new social media tools in full stride in the context of a disaster. Well, now we have. And in the fallout, I think we see something a bit more ominous than what became of the false prospect of Britney Spears’ passing or Bill O’Reilly being gay.

One day, misinformation spread in this manner will lead to much worse than collective embarrassment. Under the right circumstances, it will cost people their lives.

The simple fact that people demand so little validation from their sources of information should make you nervous. Demand more of yourself and others.

Read, research…then react.

2 thoughts on “We Are Screwed: How Social Media Will Kill Us All

  1. I think it might just illustrate the true scale and magnitude of ignorance, stupidity, and lack of reason that plagues the human race. I'm guessing that the percentages are no different now than in other times in the world's history. But only now, with these wonderful technological tools, can we begin to build a more accurate picture of how … See Morerampant it is. Consider that prior to twitter and FB, it was likely that any one person's actions were limited to a relatively small group of people: family, friends, and co-workers. You could choose your friends, ignore your co-workers, and only see family at holidays when you're guilted into it.

    Then came the internet, originally used by a small set of highly-educated thinkers. Chain-letters and flyers where the only real mechanism for the spread of the nonsense. At least then, the USPS and by proxy, the govt, made some money so society could benefit (albeit in a small way) somewhat from the stupidity. Then email hit the masses and the birth of the chain-email, with its ridiculous fonts, its flashing text and embedded pictures with no context.

    The rest is history.


  2. Have to agree wholeheartedly. I have a continual battle with my 15 yo daughter, trying to convince her that not everything you read is true.

    She once read about a seminar where you could increase ones bust size throw positive thinking. She was sure it was true due to the testimonials on the site.

    “Why would they lie”

    I pointed out the fact that she was willing to believe the word of a complete stranger over that of her father. Alas, to no avail…..


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