[OPINION] When social media sharing turns into social scaring
It's the age of social media and everyone with a smartphone is a journalist (it's ok, we welcome you to the fold). We blog and tweet and snapchat and Facebook (when did these even become verbs?), we tell the world about our lives and for the most part it's a wonderful distraction from the tough lives and traffic jams and political crises we wade through on a daily basis.
But while we're doing this, we often forget that we all have a responsibility when it comes to social media and when it comes to 'creating' or releasing information. We have a responsibility to try and verify facts before passing them on blindly.
Be a little cynical and interrogate the information (as best as possible) before forwarding on to all and sundry.
Am I receiving it from a credible source? Do I have the person's details? Who is this voice on the other side of this strange, scary sounding message?
Don't simply buy into and believe everything you hear and read. Ask questions. The frequency with which you receive something does not make it legitimate. It merely means that more and more people are falling victim to an elaborate, cruel hoax.
"The prediction is worse than yesterday... If you are out I suggest you get home, if you are in (sic) low ground I suggest you get to high ground".
That was the message by a so-called emergency service official and a perfect case in point as a voice note circulated with unbelievable speed on WhatsApp, sending parents into a frenzy, and people looking frantically around for 'higher ground'.
The frenzy eventually prompted the company in question to issue a statement denying it was them.
I get that we have been severely affected by flash floods, strong winds and terrible storms this week. Damage has been done, lives have been lost.
A three-year-old child was swept away as her desperate father tried helplessly to hold on to her little hand - and that terrifies us!
So I get that you are scared.
I completely get that you're hoping that just one more life can be saved by forwarding on what you're hoping isn't - while actually suspecting is just one more hoax message.
But just like the 'type Amen and a sick child will be saved from death' Facebook messages we are so prone to click on - it's not going to happen. It's nonsense and some heartless person somewhere is taking advantage of your fears. And probably laughing at how gullible we all are. Be more cynical, ask tougher questions, be responsible - and for goodness sake don't feed the freaks who make these things by sharing to all.
Oh yes, and if you know who they are or find them somehow - please, please do send them my way.
Katy Katopodis is the Editor-in-Chief of EWN.