We talked last week about finding out if something is true before you share it via social media or in an e-mail. I’ve got a great example of why just taking a few seconds to think before you share something keeps falsehoods and hoaxes from spreading. Take a look at this post about the record-setting Powerball Jackpot.
It claimed to have a simple solution for poverty in the U.S. It claimed that if you split the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot between the 300 million residents of the U.S., each would get $4.33 million dollars. This image was shared millions of times on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Clearly before anyone bothered to think about it. If you gave it a closer look, you’d see that the math is all wrong. $1.3 billion divided by 300 million is $4.33. That won’t even buy everyone in the country a large latte at Starbucks.
Even without doing the math, you should know that lottery jackpots are made up of the amount of money that’s put in to them by the players. So assuming that every single person in the country bought a ticket, that would mean that they put in an average $4.33 million each. That also seems pretty unlikely.
I’m a bit concerned that so many folks don’t seem to know that a billion is a thousand million. I’m concerned that so many people are willing to pass along information without the slightest attempt to verify it.
Does this Powerball post matter? No, not really. But when people pass along health claims, false claims that people have made racist statements, false accusations of criminal activity, false reports of missing children etc… it does hurt.
If you’re old enough to use a phone or PC, you should be old enough to know that just because someone writes something on a photo, it doesn’t make it true. And if you don’t know if it’s true, don’t share it before you verify it.
If you don’t have time to verify, just don’t share. I leave you with this.