Pookie says you better tell the truth!

It is so easy to pass on false information! But there are ways to avoid it.

We write to communicate.

We post. We tweet. We connect. We stumble. And we do it fast. What you "say" in writing becomes permanent. You can delete it in a minute but someone has already copied it. It can be twisted to mean something else. It can easily be stolen or broadcast to the world in a new form. Your tweet can go viral.

Some business owners wish for a viral response!

Do you? Are you sure?

Have you fact checked? 

Serious Considerations Before Publishing or Sharing

(1) Are you sharing someone's intellectual property without permission?

(2) Are you sharing a personal photo that wasn't meant to be shared? (And how would you know?)

(3) Is it true?

(4) Is it true?

(5) Is it true?

Sometimes we remember exactly how we learned something. I remember learning the word integrity. The teacher created a permanent image in my mind.

There are three ships sailing away on the ocean. One has a pinhole leak. One has a gaping hole. One has no leaks at all. The one without the leak has integrity. The other two do not. The ship with the gaping hole is more likely to get the attention it needs to make it sea worthy.

But the one with the tiny leak can go far away before realizing the problem. The shipmates could be in big trouble soon. The captain could avoid that problem by checking carefully before heading out.

Which ship do you want to be?

I don't want to sink! How about you? In my next post I'll discuss plagiarism and how to avoid it. Believe it or not, it is possible to plagiarize without realizing it.

Here are some ways to avoid passing on false information — ways to check your hull before sending the ship out onto the internet ocean.

Go to the source yourself. False missing children stories are my pet peeve. Why anyone would invent a story, pull a real child's picture from cyberspace and claim the child is missing is beyond me. But it happens all the time. I see these stories shared and tweeted without any details attached — no town, no date, no agency. I saw one recently that said "call the local authorities," but there was no location included.

I won't share without that information, so I inquired. So here's what you do.

  • Ask the person who shared it if they know any details. Do they know the family? Do they have a link to the news article? All missing children don't make it onto an Amber Alert. I'm not sure how all of that works, but it is a fact.
  • Check the Amber Alert website.
  • Do a Google search for the story. If you find one, it is probably a true post. Go ahead and share it. If you don't find one, that could be because it hasn't hit the news yet.
  • Be sure to check Hoax Slayer and Urban Legends (aka SNOPES) for the story. Some of these have been going around the internet and email for years. You can find that out at these two websites.
  • If you aren't finding any evidence that this is a legitimate missing child, call the authorities in the area and ask.
  • Create a new post to share that includes the important details if you find it is true. Be sure to include a link to the actual Amber Alert, and/or to the local news story.

The same goes for any human interest story. Some that go around are not true at all and the pictures used belong to real families who are frustrated by the constant flow! Now I realize this is time consuming. But no matter how inspiring the story, no matter how compelling a missing child alert tugs at your heart — the real true stories out there could be buried by our sharing and sharing and sharing of the same lopsided post. Eventually people will be so tired of it that they will stop responding.

In a few years you may begin to recognize some of these as they keep coming back around.

There are also true stories that have been resolved, yet are still making the rounds years later. Snopes will tell you about those too.

Let's stop the nonsense together!

Join me in the campaign to stop these in their tracks!

Let's pass on the good news of found kids, rescued pets and healing miracles by sharing the resolved post and adding a comment telling the truth. Let's ask for prayer for people who are still sick — and alive! Let's stop torturing families with the ghosts of their tragedies. Let's rally round causes that are truly happening right now!

Why not start a fact checking co-op? A group of friends can take turns checking stories.

What do you think?