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I love social media. Chances are, since you are here, you probably love social media too. However, there is certainly a downside to social media and social networking that cannot be ignored.

Yesterday, there was a story on television about Twitter (so what else is new right?). Someone tweeted that Patrick Swayze had died. If you know anything about Swayze’s recent health struggles with cancer, you realize this story was believeable and sad, but it was untrue! Reportedly the story began on a radio station, was picked up by a German television station, was tweeted and spread like wildfire. This makes Twitter sound like a dysfunctional game of Telephone.

roethlisbergerAlong the same lines, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback (my sports boyfriend ūüėČ Go Steelers!) Ben Roethlisberger, had to clear up the rumor that he is fighting skin cancer. Someone posted a status update on Facebook¬†under Roethlisberger’s name stating that he had been diagnosed with skin cancer. Although there are accounts under his name on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, none actually belong to the quarterback.

“There’s no truth to it. I don’t have any of that stuff,” the Steelers quarterback proclaimed Wednesday.

(Read the rest of the article here even though they spelled his last name wrong until the middle of the article. )

 

What do these stories mean to social media and social networking? Do they hurt the credibility of bloggers or companies on Twitter? Is Twitter anything more than a high tech version¬†of Telephone? Should we believe anythingthat we read? Undoubtedly, we have to remember that many blogs, Facebook accounts and Tweets belong to regular people. They aren’t journalists who are required to research (then again, the article I posted spelled a name wrong!). For some reason people will pose as celebrities and tell lies, or people will report it wrong (did you know the AP Wire posted a story last night with the wrong winner of American Idol?!). To err is human and mistakes are to be expected.

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