Social Media is Great for Rumors

I made a mistake. Honestly, I make mistakes all the time but when you make the mistake in your blog it is public and occasionally can be pretty devastating. Luckily this one wasn’t devastating but I definitely got to see the beginning of a potential disaster. On Wednesday evening I received an email from another blogger/journalist notifying me of a post they wrote. Apparently they had found a Facebook page pertaining to film. I checked out the page and also noticed a link for music.

The pages appeared as though Facebook was preparing to launch both a music and film service. Being the overly-eager blogger that I am, I posted an article proclaiming that “Facebook Music and Movies Goes Live!” Aside from the questionable grammar of the headline, I had jumped the gun and suddenly both my article and the other article were posted on Techmeme.

The reality was that Facebook was simply encouraging musicians and filmmakers to use their pages service. While I honestly think this was a cop-out on their end, it was a necessary political move. They want to ensure that this isn’t viewed as an attack against iLike, one of the most popular applications currently on Facebook. Soon enough Mashable jumped on the bandwagon and the rumor snowball had begun.

I learned two lessons from this. First, do a little more homework prior to rewording another article. Second, social media can instantly reward anybody with a catchy headline. While the reward may be short-lived, rumors can instantly snowball and can be reposted for Google to devour within a moment’s notice. Next thing you know, somebody is searching for “Facebook Music” and some unknown blogger (or myself) has proclaimed that Facebook music is launching.

This is the fault with social media and perhaps with computers in general. While people can create content and software systems can process them there is no determination of truth by the systems and it is up to the reader to determine them. Perhaps this is the fault with news in general because even trusted sources can get a story wrong. The next day it will end up as a correction but let’s be honest, who actually reads the corrections?

Do you think there is a problem with the system? Is it the reader’s job to determine what information is right and what is wrong when they are constantly consuming content? Have you made a similar mistake?

Update
Apparently the rumor that began with us found its way into PC World.