The Internet: Making Up Stuff Since 1995
The recent news of the death of Osama Bin Laden has sparked extensive traffic across social networks and the Internet as a whole. Personally, I found out about the event from Twitter a good 30 minutes before any major news source was reporting it. Real time just got more real.
Although social networks are an excellent source of up-to-date information, you should always tread with common sense and caution. My teachers in high school preached to not believe everything you read on the Internet. That isn’t anything groundbreaking, but is good advice to be reminded of nonetheless.
Since the news of Osama has surfaced, the social networking space has been flying with spam and incorrect information. Yesterday, a malware virus portraying a Photoshopped image of Osama, made rounds on Facebook. Those who clicked on the image launched the virus even further into the dark, social media abyss.
A somewhat less intentional fallacy arose yesterday as well. A supposed quote by Martin Luther King Jr. began spreading like wildfire throughout the Internet.
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
Problem is, Martin Luther King Jr. never actually said that quote. One of the first people to cite the saying was Penn Jillette, the famous magician of Penn & Teller. Since he posted the quote, social media quote fiends have latched on with fervor.
Megan Mcardle, a writer for The Atlantic, wrote an article yesterday explaining how MLK Jr. indeed did not coin this saying. A quick Internet search revealed that it had never surfaced before a few days ago. Putting a bit of thought behind it also seems to contradict the fact that MLK Jr. would have said it. What loss of life would he have been referring too? What death of an enemy would he have meant?
The Internet is a great resource, but shouldn’t be used without caution. That’s my annoying parental advice for the day. That and don’t use Chatroulette. Some things you can’t ever un-see.