Jeff Cole at PR 101 asked, “Why do people believe everything they read on the Internet?” Then Cole cites two examples in his PR 101 post to make a point. In both cases, what people read and believed without checking the sources led to a panic and may have caused children to suffer and die.
If interested in more details, click on the link in the first paragraph to read Cole’s post.
His conclusion was, “Many people will believe something no matter how outlandish it might seem.” He said, “People seem more willing to believe bloggers and others using social media without checking,” and he asked, “Doesn’t anyone check the source?”
Wanting another source on this topic, I searched further and discovered a Pew Internet Study (the first national survey of the use of social networking sites by adults) and read, “the typical internet user is more than twice as likely as others to feel that people can be trusted.”
After learning how gullible people are when it comes to reading something on the Internet, it should come as no surprise that China’s only national Red Cross society is fighting to keep the public’s trust after a scandal erupted when Guo Meimei, a 20-year-old woman, claimed on a Blog to have a link to China’s national Red Cross.
Guo bragged online about her luxurious lifestyle and triggered concerns among the Chinese public that money donated to the Red Cross in China was being misused. Source: China Daily
After bragging, Guo Meimei became a hot topic on China’s major micro blog website, Weibo.com. Her fans jumped from a few hundred to more than 108,000 within a short period.
Five days later, Shanghaiist.com reported that Guo was stopped at a Beijing airport from leaving China to visit Australia with her mother.
Shanghaiist‘s Robert O’Connor wrote, “Guo continued to deny connections to the Red Cross Society and asked reporters and internet users to “stop fooling around”.
When was the last time you believed something you read on the Internet without checking to see if it were true or not? A good place to start might be Snopes.com.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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