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03 Aug

What’s your role in correcting a retweeted hoax?

Posted by 2 comments

It happens to all of us, and last week it happened to me.

I got punked… by a hoax.

That study that claimed IE6 users have a lower IQ, as much as we may still feel like it’s true, was a fake.

I’ve been punked by hoaxes in the past, I’m sure, but the difference with this one is that I retweeted it and helped spread the misinformation. And, in turn, my tweet was retweeted a half dozen times.

Now, I didn’t know it was a hoax at the time. I have to admit, though, I immediately bought into it. Old browsers are hated by Web Developers. But when I shared it I was thinking it was “proof” rather than trying to willing lie to people.

In other words, I don’t think I committed a journalistic sin because I didn’t know it was fake at the time. Retweeting a rumor and treating it as fact, that’s a journalism sin… this was more a case of journalistic laziness, because in my heart “I knew it to be true.”

Typically, I read the links before I share them with others – not endorsements, per say, but informed sharing. In this case, I didn’t even question it and re-shared. (NOTE: I still believe there is something wrong with you if you are using IE6.)

Tim Carmody, who wrote the piece exposing the hoax for Wired, said it perfectly:

.@ One thing I talk about in the article is how these hoaxes 1) give us ammo in an argument & 2) confirm what we already think.
@tcarmody
Tim Carmody

While I didn’t commit a journalism sin, I did, knowing or not, participate in spreading this hoax. So, what is my responsibility now?

I went straight to the correction expert and asked Craig Silverman, of Regret the Error, for advice. His response:

@ @ You should message anyone who RT’d your incorrect RT to let them know it was a hoax. And ask them to spread word.
@CraigSilverman
Craig Silverman

My response:

@ Will do! And I’ll say two ‘Our Fathers’ … that’s the Catholic side of me. I can’t help it. // @
@webjournalist
Robert Hernandez

While not a sin, I still felt dirty. So much so, that I also posted a correction on Google+ and wrote this piece.

I’m happy to report, moments after I asked those who retweeted me to spread the corrected info, nearly all did.

What are your thoughts? How would you have corrected this “error?” Do you consider it an error?

  1. August 3rd, 2011 at 17:43 | #1

    I think it’s a common error in a time when there’s information thrown at us 24/7. There are times when we might post something that is not true…even if we read it over first.

    I think you did the right thing my stopping the misinformation and retweeting that it was a hoax. Not many people don’t have the confidence to admit that.

    FYI, there’s a typo in this sentence: And, in turn, *me* tweet was retweeted a half dozen times.

    Best,
    Jackie

  2. August 3rd, 2011 at 17:47 | #2

    Jackie :
    I think it’s a common error in a time when there’s information thrown at us 24/7. There are times when we might post something that is not true…even if we read it over first.
    I think you did the right thing my stopping the misinformation and retweeting that it was a hoax. Not many people have the confidence to admit that.
    FYI, there’s a typo in this sentence: And, in turn, *me* tweet was retweeted a half dozen times.
    Best,
    Jackie

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