Can you trust everything you see on the Internet? The answer, as we all know (or ought to know) is simply “Nope.” It doesn’t take much time surfing the Internet to recognize that plenty of what we find is false, biased, incomplete, inaccurate, fraudulent, poorly stated… the list goes on and on. Today’s World Wide Web has enough misinformation to test anyone’s media literacy.
Even when material was never intended to be false, however, it can still be used by others in a misleading way. The BBC’s excellent Trending section, filled with the latest from the whirling world of social media, contains a drastic example. A recently promoted video on various social media outlets purports to depict a ship searching in the Indian Ocean for the debris of the lost flight MH370. This video has been widely shared, drawing countless thousands of views. Unfortunately, it isn’t real – the video was taken long before the plane crash, and the user who originally filmed it was shocked to learn that others were falsely depicting his work as being the view from on board a search vessel. It’s yet another example of why it’s important to view the digital world with a dash of skepticism as we evaluate its contents.