Fact from Fiction: Why Good Reporting Matters in an Age of Digital Hoaxes
In a world of ‘fake news’, hoax clickbait, and Photoshop, the Internet has turned into a place better likened as a mirage; things taken into consideration must first be taken into context, and even after that the truth may be as little as a grain of salt. Back in the early days, a Photoshopped image of a shark locking eyes with a soldier hanging from a Blackhawk helicopter in front of the Golden Gate Bridge was all in good, harmless fun. Now, doctored images can completely change our entire perception of parts of the world, or at least make us believe in things that aren’t even there.
An early viral edited image from 2001
Take the visually pleasing architecture of Thailand’s viral Finger Print Building. When I first saw the picture, I was amazed by the near-impossible lines and intricacy of the structure. From the aerial views of the building it looks like something straight from a Sci-Fi movie. After a few minutes of Googling though I realized that I had fallen prey for a hoax, or more accurately, a well-made ad for a fingerprint security company in Bangkok. The company had done nothing wrong, it was simply people in bad wisdom who had passed the image off as real.
Thailand’s viral “Finger Print Building”
As we navigate the web, we must remember to tread lightly on the images and headlines that seem too good or outlandish to be true. A quick round of fact checking can often poke holes in the trickiest pieces of fabrication. Reporters especially must be careful not to swallow memes and hoaxes whole. This not only keeps articles honest but ensures one’s credibility.
In the wild west of the Internet where almost anything can be said, good reporting is more important now than ever. It is the job of credible writers and journalists to serve as the gatekeepers between fact and obvious hoax. If the Internet is our window to the world then we must keep it clear and concise. Misinformation not only dilutes facts, it can shift public opinion towards persons and ideas, if not entire nations. A good society is a well-researched one. Before clicking the link, check the facts.
Though the Finger Print Building was little more than a clickbait image, I would’ve felt silly showing friends a structure that didn’t even exist in the first place. It’s amazing how much grief a little bit of research can save you.