In today's really disturbing, totally-messed-up news, the politically-focused Fox Twitter handle, FoxNewspolitics, reported that President Barack Obama had been assassinated yesterday morning. Wow.
The Tweet, which reached 36,000+ followers, reported that the president had been shot twice and killed in an Iowa restaurant. In my attempt to grab a screenshot of said Tweet to accompany this post, I found that it was (thankfully) taken down and replaced with a link to an article explaining how they were hacked, how they've alerted the Secret Service, and how they've requested a "detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred."
I'm sure most people who saw the Tweet had the sense to be skeptical, as, well, that would be crazy, insane news that would be reported every which way you looked. But, still, it begs the question: How do we know when to believe social media?
Think about it: How many times have we seen false Tweets or Facebook statuses that report the death of a celebrity, politician, or other public figure? It's a jungle out there. Conveniently, this leads me to my first rule of when and how to be wary on social media:
Be skeptical of death reportings. I don't know what it is with us, but the human race seems to love Tweeting about people dying. Even when they're alive and well. Perhaps we want the thrill of "knowing first" -- who doesn't love being privy to information other people don't have (and of course telling those other people we have it)? Whatever it is, always be doubtful when reading about celebs kicking the bucket. Just turn on the news. If it really happened, it'll be on TV.
Look at grammar. Yes, I'm aware that with the inventions of texting, Facebook, and Twitter, any and all usage of proper grammar has gone out the window, but it still can be a tell-tale sign in deciphering if somebody was hacked. For instance, if you're friends with your AP English teacher from high school and she suddenly updates her Facebook with the status: "GiTtin' CA-RUNK 2NiTe WiT m'GRLZZZ," it's probably not her. Conversely, if you're lucky enough to be friends with people on Facebook who update in this manner, be wary if you start to see them Strunk and White-ing it.
Fact check big news. Obama's "assassination" was big news. Like I said, all one had to do was turn on a TV to see whether or not it was true. The same (sort of) applies to your friends. Por ejemplo, if your very bestest friend in the entire universe Tweets that she's pregnant -- without so much as a phone call to you -- fact check that s**t. Call her, text her, BBM her. I know times are a changin', but chances are that's not the way she would tell you.
Notice the time. A few mornings back, I woke up to what appeared to be a perfectly normal email from my father. The subject line was something like, "Tomorrow." Thing was, it was sent at around 3:30 a.m. There was no way on earth my dad was up then. So I didn't open it, and when I asked him if he sent it, he was all, "Hell no." Crisis averted.
Read a newspaper, for God's sake. I mean, really, would it kill you?
Have you ever been hacked?
Image via eldh/Flickr