Social media frenzy and Obama's death

So the last few weeks we’ve been seeing somewhat of a Social Media frenzy among Social Media users. With Google+ going live (nicely hyping it by limiting access calling it a ‘beta’), Facebook reacting with its new Video chat functionality and Twitter…. Well Twitter kept silent. The only news on that front: the hacking of a Fox News account starting to proclaim Obama’s death.

Still that last titbit of information intrigues me… Not because a Verified twitter account was hacked or that twitter is staying remarkebly silent about Google+ but because the ‘Obama news’ generally didn’t cause much of a stir at all. In fact, reading the different reactions I’d say people mostly just shrugged it off.

There used to be a time that when a renowned or at least well known media source or paper would publish something everybody would simply believe it. If the morning paper or the tv-presenter said so most people wouldn’t doubt that. They had limited resources to verify and generally just trusted the journalists to have done their homework.
Ok, yes I know this was more then a decade ago but still you’d be surprised how many people still believe in the integrity of journalism and regard a well known news agency, network or newspaper name as an instant proof of validity.

So when the FOX account started spewing out messages about Obama’s death I kind of expected a certain part of the internet population to start blindly retweeting this, like they retweet all kind of nonsense…. It didn’t happen (or at least not as blindly as I would expect it)! In fact the tweets I saw about it all identified the fact the account was hacked.
I think that’s great, it proves we’re starting to mature into the new age of unlimited access of information. Instead of blindly believing and following what others say or write we try to verify. We take a more sceptical approach to news and news suppliers and check up on more sources before believing it. And… we’re more aware about the dangers of hacking.

I know most of you won’t see this as anything special but I really think it is. Not so long ago I tutored a group of senior citizens on using a computer. This was a challenge to say the least. For their age these people were advanced as they actually were interested in learning this new phenomonon. In all truth though some of them struggled to even grasp the simplest concept of mail or internet information. Teaching them to be vigilant with what they could and what they shouldn’t believe (phising, hoaxes, spam, unvalidated information) really was a hell of a job. They were used to libraries with books that had been edited, scrutenized and categorized into nice definitive catogories like ‘science’ and ‘fiction’. So all that unvalidated info confused them.
Similarily intriguing I think is the group of youngsters, that although generally pretty well aware of the lack of validation on certain internet information still choses to believe blindly sometimes. Is it stupidity or lazyness, I’m not sure but I do find it fascinating how easliy they sometimes just take the internet info as fact.

So the lack of response to the Obama news shows we’re getting there. We are learning how to digest the info that is out there in cyberspace and when a supposedly verified Social Media account starts announcing the US president’s death we are critical and don’t get into a frenzy.

Now if we could only do the same when a major internet company announces the hottest new Social Media network….