Sunday, December 28, 2014

Before You Share That Article...

... think twice!

Should I share this article? 

This is a question that, unfortunately, does not get asked enough in the world of social media. It's easy to just click share without thinking about the wider consequences. In all of our online sharing we need to be discerning, especially on social media where an untrue or unhelpful article can spread quickly. I've written out some questions that I ask myself before sharing something in the hope that these ideas will be helpful to you as well.

The Clickbait

Does the title of this article contain the following phrases, or phrases that are similar: "Made my day, my jaw hit the floor, everyone was shocked, you won't believe what happened next, etc."?
If YES then ask yourself
Did this really make my day? Did my jaw literally hit the floor? Was everyone truly shocked? Am I still having a hard time believing what actually happened next?

If you must, do so with an apology, or see if you can find the source article or video. As a general rule, try not to direct traffic to clickbait sites. They often repost other people's work without crediting, or use dishonest and sensational titles to generate clicks. They should not be supported.

The Pseudoscience

Does this article link to every study that it mentions (especially if it uses the phrase 'studies have shown that __ causes cancer')?
If YES then take a moment to click through the links and make sure they're from a reputable source, even if you don't understand a word.


If you must, you're going to have to do the research yourself and post links along with the article. There's no way around it. You shouldn't trust claims made without proof, and you shouldn't pass them on to your friends either. When the subject matter is medical an article that makes false claims can quite literally be harmful to anyone who follows its incorrect advice.

The Sensational

Does this article sound almost too good or too horrible to be true?
If YES, then ask yourself
Does this article come from The Onion, or another parody news site? 

If NO be sure to ask:
Does this article have a corresponding page on

If you have already shared the article, don't post a retraction that says "this is false, but my point still stands." Just don't do that to yourself. Check before you post or own up afterwards. If you fail, admit it, but don't continue using a soapbox that just collapsed.

The Political

Does this political article unfairly attack the opposing side by referring to them with hateful or slang terms, by using angry and bitter speech, by spreading lies and disinformation, by making unfounded assumptions, by generalization, or by promoting slander and gossip? 
IF YES then it goes without saying. DO NOT SHARE THE ARTICLE. It does not matter how wrong you believe your political opponents to be. Always be the better man.

IF NO then ask yourself
What are my motives in posting this article? Am I sharing it with selfish motives, e.g. to attack another friend who has the opposite opinion, or because I feel a great deal of hurt and hatred toward people who hold the opposite opinion? Do I have friends who may get offended by this article, and am I sharing this expressly to offend them?

IF NO and you can honestly say that you are sharing this article because it expresses your opinion on a certain political subject well, then go ahead and post it. Remember that there are some things not worth ending a friendship over, and many political topics fit into this category. I'm not saying you should always be silent, just that you should always be gracious.

The Downer

Was I going to share this article with the following caption, or a similar caption: "What is this world coming to? What is happening to our country? This is why the world will end soon. What is wrong with people? I don't even want to live on this planet anymore."
If NO then you're all good. Just checking.

If YES then it's seriously time to get off of Facebook or Twitter. Get up out of your chair, go hug your closest loved one, get outside and go for a walk, eat some chocolate, take a deep breath. Acknowledge the fact that you have no control over the events of history. Make peace with it. God is in control. It's going to be all right. I promise.

So let's commit to being wise and discerning curators of information on social media. We've been given a lot of power and we must use it responsibly. Here's to less of these articles in the future, and more good articles and great discussions.

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