Media was driven by trained personnel. Then came new media, which emphasised free flow of information. Traditional media struggled to remain relevant to a digital audience. Engagement became a conversation and media became social. So why expect only the truth? There are more interesting variants of information like rumours, gossip, speculation, and if need be, apologies!
If social media mimics society, then surely, you shouldn't just expect distribution of fact-checked, panel-beaten information, presented in a straight jacket of truth, ethics and integrity.
One hears something, probably truthful, but likely to be false. Instinctively, it seems, the urge to share becomes too overwhelming.
Simplistic satisfaction could be derived from being the first to break/forward the news/misinformation, or just anticipating adulation and validation among peers, (why....because).
Also, being perceived to be in the know appears to be highly valued, (as demonstrated by the number of followers on social media), which secures a prime spotlight, among hunters, gatherers and distributors of 'raw' information.
The truth shall set you free.
But which truth? (Yes there's more than one):
- That which is peddled by purported believers, hinged on selective application of scriptures.
- What the government wants you to believe, based on preservation of national security, public order and other ex patre considerations.
- Tainted/painted truth in the form of propaganda
- That which is built on empirical/verifiable evidence... but hurts terribly.
- A convenient white lie, not far from the truth.
- Being economical with the truth is in the best interest of those concerned.
The options were limited in the days of trusted mainstream media.
But with social media, anything and everything, from anybody who is somebody or nobody, can and will be shared at lightning speed, with careless abandon.
Laws and regulations will come and pass but verily verily I say unto you, the man that taketh the Internet from the masses, will haul us back to the dark ages, and pretend to control information flow.