We’re living in a world where we have access to instant communications, couple this with busy workloads and tools to speed up that communication and it’s no great surprise that a warning you receive will often be sent off to others without you checking out the details (or in a lot of cases without it even being read) Someone is always sending out warnings in this world. But this is a problem…
Like pretty much every Facebook user my timeline was recently full of friends reposting something along the lines of:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). etc etc
If you didn’t already know, this is a hoax. One of the many Facebook and Twitter hoaxes that keep going around and around, for instance how many times have you seen a message saying Facebook is about to start charging etc. But like most hoaxes this is well documented on multiple sites so why do I still get about 5 of these a day.
The reason I get so many of these is the same reason drug services get so many drug warnings (you see what I did there, I started writing about Facebook and then brought it back to drugs, I’m getting good at this stuff) it’s because people are inherently lazy, not you of course, but most people. It’s far easier to hit the share button on Facebook, or the forward button on an email than it is to go and check the accuracy of a warning. But it goes further than that it’s the fact so many warnings are passed on without people even thinking ‘does this make sense?’.
Here are two examples from my experience, one of a hoax, one a bad warning:
So, the latest drug warning has come though (or indeed the latest ‘Facebook is planning to steal you children and throw them into vats of acid’ warning) what can you do to check.
OK so now you’re checking the facts on those alerts coming in, what about the ones you’re sending out? Well in just the same way you can help make them easy to check for others
…don’t automatically think that all strange sounding messages are hoaxes, back when the anthrax outbreak started in Scotland I initially brushed it off as an obvious hoax, I really shouldn’t have of course , I should have checked it out further first.
So remember check messages before sending them on and make sure your messages are accurate, dated and have useful information.
Nigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting Advice. He’s been working in harm reduction since the 1990’s, previously a frontline needle programme worker he now splits his time between photography and developing online resources for drugs workers and users.