BLOGS

The spread of fake news on social media

There’s FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

There’s Momo (the scary chicken lady with bulging eyes who’s scaring our children on the internet).

 And now there’s FOMomo (Fear of Momo).

‘FOMomo’ has become a social media phenomenon in its own right.

It is now widely agreed that the latest ‘Momo challenge’ to stalk our screens is in fact a hoax.

However the speed at which it spread around the globe is dizzying.

And the reason it spread so fast was down to two things – fear and the power of social media algorithms.

News of the latest so-called Momo suicide challenge hit our shores last week, striking fear into the hearts of parents.

However, experts have failed to find evidence that the Momo challenge ever existed in the first place.

The ‘Momo’ image is actually a picture of a sculpture of a bird-like monster made for special effects company Link Factory in 2016, which subsequently became a meme.

In 2018, media reported cases of teen suicides in Argentina, India and Colombia thought to have been motivated by the Momo challenge.  But none of the claims have been substantiated, according to legend-busting website Snopes.com.

Last month Momo resurfaced in social media content after warnings that Momo-related threats and suicide imagery were being inserted into videos viewed by children.

But YouTube says there is “no recent evidence of videos promoting Momo on YouTube”.

According to Wired.co.uk, the latest scare began in Scotland when a mother posted a message on Facebook saying that her son had looked up Momo online and scared three other children with it.

Soon the media, schools, police forces, YouTubers and even Kim Kardashian (who has 129 million Instagram followers) jumped on the bandwagon.

It was only a matter of days before it was being beamed into our living rooms here in New Zealand, via a Seven Sharp report.

By which time it was already old news, having already circulated widely via Facebook.

Social media is an extremely effective conduit – for good and bad.

Fake news spreads faster and more widely than the truth. Which is why it is important to be mindful of the content you are sharing.

Fact checking should be an integral part of your content writing. Effective social media marketing means being able to stand by what you say online.

If you’re sharing content, stick to reputable news sources and never assume. Do your own homework.

If you think something might be a hoax, Snopes.com or KnowYourMeme.com are a good place to start.

Because sharing a hoax can do more harm than good, and can even be damaging to your reputation.

However, if you’ve got something genuine that captures Kim Kardashian’s attention, you’re onto a winner.

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