Saturday, 6 December 2014

Congratulations, you broke the internet

What does that even mean?

I’m as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on Facebook. But is this really the best use of the internet? I bet when Tim Berners-Lee made his proposal for an information management system using the internet, he never imagined the world wide web would become so… stupid.

Okay, what am I talking about? I’m talking about the way people so blindly believe everything they read on Facebook or Twitter.

Facebook isn’t stealing your stuff!

Take this current hoax that’s going round at the moment: People seem to genuinely believe that posting a Facebook status asserting their copyright ownership is going to somehow protect them.

Protect them from what? What do you think Facebook is going to do with your stuff? The simple fact is this: When you sign up with any kind of social network you have to give them a non-exclusive license to share your stuff… why? Because how else would the site be able to let your friends and followers see the stuff you’re posting for them. It doesn’t mean that Facebook is sharing your photos with third parties for commercial gain it simply means Facebook shares your photos with the people you allow to see it (according to your privacy settings and sharing permissions). There’s a really simple rule of thumb here. If you don’t want Facebook to share your stuff, don’t post it on Facebook.

And maybe you’ve never signed a contract before, but you can’t just decide you don’t agree with one of the clauses anymore and stand up and say “well I revoke your rights, and do so retrospectively from the date of agreement.” That’s like telling your bank you decided that they can no longer, and were never ever, allowed to take money from your account to pay off your mortgage. If you want to change a clause in an agreement, you have to, you know, negotiate it and have both parties agree to it.

And while we’re on it, do you really believe Facebook is monitoring every single status update? Who are you asserting your rights to other than your friends?

A pointless waste of time. I filmed a video blog about it last week but then found that these guys had done one much better…

Scare mongering and endorsing baddies!

You might think, well there’s no harm in posting it. but you’re wrong, here’s what happens:

You post or share a bogus claim without checking whether it is true and while some people will tell you you’re an idiot, others will get scared and panic. The scared ones will repost it. All it does is give credibility to the malicious hoaxer that came up with it in the first place and they hi-five their friends and say:

Dude, my bogus status went viral. Let’s make up some more nonsense and see how far it spreads.”

Do you know what else these people make up? Bogus health claims, you know like how you can save yourself during a heart attack by coughing.

Now there is harm in sharing that one. Because no doctor or medical institute has ever recommended that as an option, despite the claims in the article. How would you feel if you told your loved one to cough themselves well and then they died because they delayed getting proper medical attention?

And yet, we see something posted on Facebook and we are all too quick to believe it.

In case you’re wondering, any month that has 31 day and starts on a Friday will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. It happened in August and it’ll happen again in May next year… Not in 823 years.

It’s not too late to change…

We have, literally, at our fingertips, all of the knowledge of the world and yet mankind has chosen to turn the internet into one long, never-ending episode of You’ve Been Framed.

I want you to do something for me, next time you read something that makes you think “oh my god, no way, that’s amazing…” before you hit the share button, just google it and see if it’s actually true. Because chances are it’s false.

There’s a great website called Hoax Slayer – you should bookmark it – they actually follow up these so called amazing stories and check if they’re true. They have a whole library of hoaxes dating back decades, from email and web to social media hoaxes.

The internet was created to share information, it has the capacity to educate us, we should be getting more and more intelligent as we have access to so much information… and yet here we are wasting our time watching cat videos. There’s a big world out there and it’s more accessible than ever before, yet we’re too busy trying to find our own house on a map to notice.

Congratulations, you broke the internet