A leading expert in verifying stories and photos shared on social media believes most people have some basic motivations for sharing fake images.
He also believes it’s possible for journalists to discover newsworthy eyewitness images and steer clear of hoaxes and old pictures from unrelated events.
Often people pass along jaw-dropping photos because they get caught up in the moment. Some of them don’t know how to tell what’s real and what’s not on social media. Sometimes people are joking, but the photos are shared with people who aren’t in on the joke.
And then there are people who use images as a form of rhetoric, sharing ones that validate their beliefs, said Steve Myers, a former Poynter Online editor who just completed a stint as professional-in-residence in Texas Christian University’s journalism department.
Myers routinely shares his work during Kiplinger Fellowship Week at Ohio State University.
“People see something that is too good to ignore and without spending the time to verify it, they do the natural thing, which is to comment and pass it along,” Myers told Kiplinger Fellows at a recent presentation. “Other times, even when the message or image seems out of place, it validates what they believe about a topic, so it seems perfectly fine to share.”
Myers showed an image of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that was alleged to have been vandalized during riots in Baltimore. Some people posted the photo with racial slurs aimed at the looters. The image actually was from a looted restaurant in Karachi, Pakistan. Continue reading