In the time it takes to share an image, you can throw a few keywords and “hoax” or “snopes” into google and check the facts. “Better safe than sorry” is not an excuse.
The most famous piece of BS would have to be KONY 2012. I never watched the video. I waited a day or two instead. By waiting, there was time for Invisible Children and their cause to be properly researched and questioned. Why don’t more people do this? What good comes from blindly sharing an image or post in the name of safety?
Some years ago, there were rumours of a pedophile apparently spotted near a shopping centre in S.E. Melbourne. I checked the (unofficial) online register, and it stated this man was still in Queensland. Within a week, they had changed their information based on the wild sharing of a facebook post. By this time, the man had a supposed address. It was even discussed on the radio and a woman claimed to have a “friend in the police” who confirmed that the pedophile was currently in the area (I believe it was on an older article which I cannot find). Women were ready to knock on every door in that street in order to warn everyone!
Then the actual police made a statement pointing out that this man is forbidden from entering Victoria, and was still in Queensland.
No harm done. Better safe than sorry, right?
Images of the murderers of James Bulger (as adults) circulated on social media last year. It came with the caption claiming the police don’t want the images shared, but “better safe than sorry”, right?
Yes, maybe your sharing of an image on facebook isn’t directly hurtful. But what of the knee-jerk reactions in the real world? The ones that drove a man to suicide because he looked like the adult image of one of James Bulger’s killers. It’s vigilante justification that keeps the images suppressed: protection of the innocent from mob justice.
Or what about the ones that generalise hate for other races/religions/etc.? The ones that claim Muslims are stealing Christmas (despite it being completely false!). There are a vocal few, I won’t try to deny it, but the Muslim people I know are happy to let people live they way they want to. The only thing they’ve ever expected of me is to take off my shoes when coming into their home. They’ve been far more tolerant of me than the former work colleague who once told me to go out and kill someone because I didn’t believe in God.
Then there are all the health scares, blah, blah, blah, too many to list.
Really, in the end, it comes down to one thing: If you give even five minutes to researching the post or image you are about to share, do you really care that much?