How to verify the truth of the stories on social media networks

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Rumors are circulating on social media websites such as Whatsaap, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Telegram and other social media networks that we find it so difficult to separate them from real information. But there are things you can check to find out if these are really rumors or if they are true stories. One example, a person who makes a false message and then puts it in a Whatsaap group of ten people. And because these people trust the person, they don’t even take time to check the message but they also send it to around 20 other people. The twenty also continue to send the message to others and they fall into the trap of thinking that since the message was not sent by an unknown person, it was not false. In this way, the message would reach a fiftieth person without knowing the origin, it becomes more complicated to verify the origin.

A true example, a recent photo on Whatsaap showed a supposed post on the Twitter page of a French media France24, published in French declaring: “Rwanda prolongs its lockdown until next May 11”. When you see this photo, you may think that it’s true. But when you look at it carefully, you see that there is no blue sign in front with the letter V which indicates well-known profiles on Twitter. And even if that was the case, you may wonder why this information, which is so important for Rwanda, was not broadcast on a radio or any other Rwandan news site. You can also check on France24’s Twitter account and see if the information is actually published.

Supposed photo of France24 Twitter account

People often fall into the trap of feeling that the sender is a trustworthy person who cannot send an unreliable message. However, you have the choice to ask for proof that the message is true, to remain skeptical to be sure of it before sharing it too. It is often difficult to know where the message comes from. It’s not only photos and videos, it also happens to be audio messages. You may have heard of a woman who claimed to be in the United States and who said she saw people who were going to undergo surgery to insert electronic cards in their bodies with the number of the beast as written in the prophecy mentioned in the Bible! But after the publication of this voice, there was another one that I heard myself, unfortunately I did not keep those audios, the second said that the first was only a joke! When listening to a message like this, you have to check if the American media has published something about it, you can also ask professional journalists.

This photo is from a video that is said to have been taken in China recently (no one is wearing a mask!)

Rumors based on old photos or videos that people explain differently are also full on social media. The example of this photo from the video supposedly taken in China, they describe how the Chinese would have oppressed the Blacks in these times of covid19. But when you look closely, you immediately wonder how they would have beaten a black man, touching him with bare hands without gloves or masks! As you know, lately people have been leaving their homes wearing masks, in particular to protect themselves from covid 19. So you immediately understand that this is a video taken in the past which has nothing to do with what is happening in China now.

 A black man is lying on the ground, visibly beaten but there is no evidence that this was done during this period of Covid19.

If you don’t have enough evidence that it’s a true story, don’t share it with others. There are also messages that mention “send to 10 people including myself and you will be blessed!” How do you think that this can really be serious? There are other messages that you will notice, where they write the names of people and sometimes they also put pictures saying that these people are wanted by the police! The police normally have a process to publish the announcements, they have a website or a Twitter account, and they also make officially signed announcements. They cannot send a document without the official signature, which is not even published on official websites.

Sharing unreliable messages with others can have a devastating effect on the reader, and often have a devastating effect also on the audience. If you are unsure of the origin of the message, and there is no known media out there that has published the truth on that subject, or you see a photo that may not match the way they interpret it, you understand that there is no evidence that it is a true story. It would be better not to publish it. Not posting a story you don’t trust is good practice for reducing social media rumors and reducing the negative impact on people.

Jane U.


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