The world we know today was totally different 10 years ago, some may say that 10 years is a very short time for an epic event that could change the course of history, however as we know today 10 years is enough for the world to change aggressively through the introduction of web 2.0. According to whatis.com website web 2.0 is defined as
“The current state of online technology as it compares to the early days of the Web, characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity and enhanced communication channels. One of the most significant differences between Web 2.0 and the traditional World Wide Web (WWW, retroactively referred to as Web 1.0) is greater collaboration among Internet users, content providers and enterprises. Originally, data was posted on Web sites, and users simply viewed or downloaded the content. Increasingly, users have more input into the nature and scope of Web content and in some cases exert real-time control over it.”
With the introduction of web 2.0 in 2004 at the web 2.0 conference by Tim O’Reilly, the world was changed overnight or 10 years to be precise. The rise of social networking sites such as facebook, twitter, Instagram and mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber killed or in softer terms lowered the number of users of the once popular chatting sites such as yahoo messenger (YM), Internet relay chat (IRC) and many more.
The reason social networking sites are increasingly popular compared to the old chatting sites is due to the simplistic nature and user friendly environment provided. Unlike the old chatting system, it is very easy to use the social networking sites making it possible for even children the age of 10 years old to start using facebook or WeChat. This in return creates a generation that revolves around social networking sites as their main source of information and for a handful of people who are experts in the information fields knows that any information disseminated through social networking sites are false until proven otherwise. The problem nowadays is that users of social networking sites does not bother to validate information that they receive thus creating a chain of events that will eventually spread out of control when they simply share the information with other people.
One of the premise of the first amendments in America is the freedom of speech, this premise is also used all around the world in the guise of essential human rights. To a degree, the freedom of speech is an ideal form of expression that is demanded by everyone and at this time of age everyone is exercising their so called human rights. However, a coin have two sides and the freedom of speech is just a side to a coin, the other side of the coin is that a person is free to speak his mind, nevertheless he is also responsible towards what he speaks and any consequences that may come. The same rules applies to the spread of misinformation, the user of social networking sites are free to validate the information before spreading it or vice versa, however, the user is responsible towards any damage towards any individuals if the information is false. The problem today is nobody will admit that they have spread false information thus making it almost impossible to determine or pin point the exact person that spread the first lies.
The spread of misinformation through social network may sound like a small matter that would not be of any concern however there have been some cases where false information made the front news of popular newspapers and also the topic of popular news websites. According to the website pandodaily.com (2014) on the anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, it’s worth remembering that information posted on Reddit led to the New York Post printing images of two suspects on its front page, who had nothing to do with the bombings. Following the disappearance of Malaysia Airways flight MH370 in March, NBC news also highlighted various false reports spreading on social media, which alleged that the plane had made a safe landing.
Viral information on crucial matters have made people to easily believe in what they read on social networking sites. Even news portal with numerous numbers of editors and journalist uses fake information as the front page news, how will layman understand the information they just read on trusted website. The nature of people towards information in the context of the information age is people tends to want to be the first in everything especially the knowledge of new information regarding an event or tragedy regardless of its truth.
There are numerous research regarding spread of misinformation and the social network, however they do not address the people itself in which will they be responsible towards the information they spread. The core problem is not who creates false information but how a person that receive the information will react towards it, will that person take responsibility to dismiss it as false or fact and will that person spread the information regardless of the validity. As long as this problem is not stressed and fixed there will always be false information that will go viral in the social networks and people will believe it to be truthful information.
The next post will be regarding the Burden of Responsibility.