In Times of Tragedy, Be Skeptical of Things You See on Social Media
The world was rocked by devastating news out of Paris on Friday, as over one hundred innocent people going about their lives were killed or injured as they went about their lives. In the aftermath of the attacks, social media swelled with first-hand information following the attacks and people around the world showing support for those in Paris.
Don't get me wrong, social media is a great tool to disseminate information as it happens; and I am absolutely not suggesting people who shared information or showed support on social media are in the wrong. I am just suggesting that it is easy to be mislead on social media, especially if you don't pay close attention to what you're seeing.
Multiple cases of images and videos being shared on social media following the attacks were either misinterpreted or misleading; including a photo of the band Eagles of Death Metal that was falsely portrayed as being from the night of the attack, a photo of the Empire State Building changing colors (which was actually from January), and a video of the Eiffel Tower going dark supposedly as an action after the attacks. In the case of the band photo, it was actually taken from a concert in a different town earlier in the week, and in the case of the Eiffel Tower, it actually goes dark every night at 1 am.
Even locally here in the Twin Ports there was a hoax afoot as folks here in the United States showed support for those in Paris. A handful of individuals shared photos of the Aerial Lift Bridge lit up for Independence Day as a measure of showing solitude with France, being it looks similar to the French flag from the lake side. This led to multiple people believing that the bridge had actually been lit over the weekend, following the attacks in France. It would have been neat if that would have been done, but it takes a lot of work and permits in order to make this happen - something that couldn't have been done on such short notice.
In many cases the original person sharing the photo did express that the photo was from the 4th of July, but that got lost in the shuffle as photos got shared around the internet.
While many of these posts had good intentions in showing support for those impacted by the attacks, they still all misrepresent or completely ignore the truth. This has also been happening with other news around the attacks, as pointed out in this piece by Buzzfeed. That said, remember to use common sense and be critical of how and where you get your news any time; but especially in times of breaking news, crisis, and tragedy. That way you don't fall victim to accidental (or malicious) hoaxes on the internet and you won't be spreading misinformation.