Satire, clueless sharing, and digital literacy
Once-upon-a-time, satire was (pretty) clearly marked: think Mad Magazine, for example.
Then along came The Onion.
Today there are innumerable satirical news sites, some that make it very clear that they are farcical — such as having a statement on each page saying “satire!” — and some that do not. This is a post about one that does not hit readers on the head that it is a satirical site, WorldNewsDailyReport.com.
Here are some challenges:
- We want to share information that conforms to our worldview, that promotes our worldview, or that positions us as knowledgable within our peer groups (pdf). In other words, the urge to gossip is baked in.
- In 2000, 4-in-10 American adults were online. Today it’s 9-in-10. A lot of folks are fairly new digital information consumers. And digital information is very easy to share (we call this frictionless).
- False information is often (always?) more widely shared than the correction.
And generally speaking, we share information that triggers emotions. And emotions can be (and are) manipulated.
[A]ccording to Jonah Berger, the author of a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the sharing of stories or information may be driven in part by arousal. When people are physiologically aroused, whether due to emotional stimuli or otherwise, the autonomic nervous is activated, which then boosts social transmission. Simply put, evoking certain emotions can help increase the chance a message is shared.
A tale of two headlines
Here’s the (untrue) headline that has (at this writing) been shared 152,810 times, mostly on Facebook.
Here’s the rebuttal, shared 1,585 times. That’s two orders of magnitude difference.
Here’s the story on Emergent
My first rule of sharing is this:
If something sounds too good (or too bad) to be true, it’s probably not. Double-check before sharing!
I know how difficult a task this is. I’m asking you to put the brakes on the emotional hit (delay that gratification!), and I’m asking you to do something (we are cognitively lazy).
IF someone had checked out the story before sharing, what would they have seen that might be a clue?
Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill, wiredpen.com