User-Generated Content

A Warning to the Blogosphere About the Potential Increase of Fake Content

Fake

Fake stories are gaining popularity because a nice chunk of bloggers tend to skip the tiny details and believe everything they read. Throw social networks like Digg into the mix, and you have trouble on the horizon. I am not one of those people, and I do scrutinize (maybe even too much) nearly every story I read on a daily basis. This is why I am asking that the blogging community take a step back and realize that this is only the beginning of a big problem. People are going to try to hurt the image of the blogosphere.

I, unfortunately, have lost some faith in the blogosphere over the past few months with regards to credibility. Bloggers are beginning to prove why journalists still have jobs. Scammers are beginning to realize that the blogosphere is the perfect opportunity to run their fake stories and lies to gain popularity and fame. It is likely that the same people that have provided us the need for spam inboxes will now give us the need for more scrutiny within the blogosphere.

We might be entering a time where we have to question everything we read from some of the A-list bloggers amongst us. It is so easy for someone to write something that is a complete lie—in a matter of days, the whole internet will think it is the truth. Blame should be passed on to the blogger(s) that publish these stories (as well as the person that lied) without knowing the truth.

I fully realize that everything I have said here applies to news organizations as well. However, news organizations are, in the public eye, thought of as responsible and trustworthy resources which will try their best to find the truth. Bloggers seem to get away with horrible mistakes and worse, but as the amount of news generated increased, it might get frustrating for readers and bloggers alike.

Now, many of you might have read my recent post about some problems with the blogosphere—namely the fact that this GPS drawing story had been in my feed an absurd amount of times. The story was taken way out of proportion, and I criticized its popularity. Well, now we all should feel cheated and embarrassed that it was a fake all along. I am not the least bit shocked either.

Those blogs that represent themselves as credible resources should learn from this. I trust the bloggers I subscribe too now, but nothing is certain. Services, like NewsCred, are already starting to gain popularity, and bloggers will need to start owning up to knowing the truth before publishing stories.

[Image Credit: Don’t Give Me A Fake SmileJen SFO-BCN | CC]

Author: jamesm

18 thoughts on “A Warning to the Blogosphere About the Potential Increase of Fake Content

  1. No problem, and hopefully this problem doesn’t spiral out of control.

  2. While I hadn’t quite articulated it yet, this issue has been bugging me for a while. Thank you for giving voice to this issue.

  3. Hoaxing the news is an old and established pastime in America. Why do bloggers assume that, just because the medium has changed, the rest of the world must also? The only thing that has actually changed is the number of gullible people out there that publish or comment on things they can’t verify.

    Why does the blogosphere continue to believe that the rules will be any different for bloggers than they are for the rest of humanity?

    “Talk is cheap” as the saying goes. Nothing has ever been cheaper. And it has always been advisable to question everything you hear; been told; or read.

    Including this opinion.

  4. No need to worry. Spammers are late in the game. The Big corps are already busy spreading junk. Take good look at Bisphenol-a.org. They do such a good job defending the chemical.

    It’s website developed by the same agency that which represents leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry, including significant business groups such as the Plastics Division and the Chlorine Chemistry Division.

  5. Thanks for the comment, and yes, it is a genuine concern. It really should be. People are going to be doing this more often, and bloggers need to watch out for this kind of activity.

  6. To be fair, I did state that news reporting agencies do make the same mistakes.

    However, you should be worried about bloggers. If not, it will get worse than what we deal with from the news orgs.

  7. Fake stories?

    Like Dan Rather’s report on the fake TNG documents which cost him his job?

    Like the fake photos from Beruit on Reuters?

    Like the New Republic’s printing of a series of bogus stories from Iraq?

    What about all the murders and rapes at the Superdome during Katrina that never happened? AP’s continued sourcing of reports from Iraq to a non-existent police official?

    Pulitzer prize winners admitting they created stories, sources?

    I’m not worried about bloggers. We police our own. Too bad old media cannot or will not.

  8. Indeed Barbara,

    If bloggers don’t try their best to find the truth, people will game the system.

  9. Always find a second source for an information. That’s the basic journalistic principle when quoting and chaining up ‘facts’.

  10. that’s one of the real dangers of seeing things online – people have this innate desire to WANT to believe…and if the story is credible enough, it can become front page news yesterday.

    This harkens all the way back to both PT Barnum and the surface interest of modern culture (ie, more shallow than an ant’s eyebrow).

    Data points,

    Barbara

  11. Watch out for fake news. It wouldn’t be good for you or your blog’s reputation if you are caught reporting a fake story first. Check the facts if the story has gotten little coverage.

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