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Social media is not news, think carefully before sharing

rown and news of his death have shown that social media is a double-edged sword.

Social media is a powerful and great tool, but it is no replacement for news. Sharing on social platforms is a great way to spread information and it’s an avenue news organizations use all the time. But too often, it is also a platform for misinformation.

The Times-Republican took great care in getting information out about Corey quickly, but more importantly, accurately. The information we shared and continue to share took verification from official sources and a great deal of ethical decision-making.

The public played an important role in getting the word out but was not bound to professional standards of fact checking and ethics as we are. We all know that people talk and social media can become a real-life version of the game telephone with repeated sharing of messages that somewhere down the line gets misconstrued. In some cases, this happened with the investigation with some insinuating circumstances that were entirely false.

We take pride in telling the truth. And we have set standards for correcting information in the cases where we get something wrong. Social media cannot replace that diligence.

Before sharing information on social media or sharing someone else’s post, consider the validity of the information and the impact it may have. If there appears to be more harm than good that could come from posting something, don’t post it. If you don’t know where the information came from, don’t post it.

Moreover, it’s quite possible your information would be put to better use in venues other than social media. Take for example a dangerous trend that someone may hear about. By immediately posting about it, the person may feel they are doing good by letting people know. But they failed to recognize they may be magnifying the dangerous trend rather than deterring it. A quick call to local law enforcement could clear up the matter rather than stir the pot.

The same thing can be said for contacting representatives. Calling and writing letters are far more effective methods than posting something on social media in your own circle. We advance public discourse by having discussions with those for whom our message is intended and not by forming a bubble of like-minded people on social media to agree with our every word.

Social media is a great tool and provides us with avenues of communication we never had before, but it must be used with caution. Think before you share.

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