You’ve seen and no doubt probably shared a piece of content or two that came to your attention via viral news-worth-sharing aggregator Upworthy. But have you ever gone back to a piece you shared, or circled back to a piece you’ve already seen before?
That’s the problem with corrections on the Internet. Nobody (OK, very few people) goes back to re-read or re-watch something they’ve already seen. Why would you when there are hundreds of thousands of other awesome videos that will make you cry or reconsider your life waiting for you to discover.
But what happens if that video or story misled you or contained inaccuracies? You’ll probably never know, or forget the source where you first saw that mistake appear. In a newspaper, clarifications and corrections are typically appended to the stories and appear in print, either near the masthead or in a standard area of the section of the paper. Blog posts often append updated information at the top or bottom, or strike-through info that comes to light as being wrong. But how do you get those misinformed visitors to come back to see that?
Upworthy, the site that thrives on sharing uplifting or heart-wrentching viral content, has decided in some instances that one of the methods of getting their corrections noticed is to use that old staple of Internet virility: the GIF.
Correction tracker-down Craig Silverman delved into Upworthy’s correction policy this week over at Poynter, and the background is kind of fascinating because a) apparently Upworthy has fact-checkers (who expected that?) and b) how sincere can an apology really be in GIF format? He also expands on how many corrections have been issued by Upworthy, and points out only one got the GIF treatment.
You can see the GIFs in action on this corrected post about what’s inside McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. You know, I watched that original video and remembered it the next time I thought about ordering McNuggets. Had it not been for this correction going, well, viral, I never would have seen that they were back-tracking and questioning the science (which to be fair I had also done in my mind when I ordered the chicken anyway).
The thing is, the correction was from August and I just saw it this week. Um. That just proves what Upworthy itself has shown, sometimes viral is hard to force. It took six months to circle back to me, and I’m probably more plugged in than the average user.
Also it boils down to two things: everyone needs fact-checkers on the front end, and on the back end, there’s no perfect way to do corrections on the Internet.