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