First rule of social media: be sceptical

First rule of social media: be sceptical

An increasing number of people are consuming news and information via social media platforms. In Thailand most do this via Facebook and Twitter.

They choose to read and watch news according to their interests and at times they prefer. Often people consume news that is shared over Facebook by their friends.

Even news delivered by news agencies is sometimes no different from stories that go viral on social media. This is because news agencies just pick up and publish content that is already a hot issue online.

In terms of marketing, you could say news agencies are doing the real-time marketing but in terms of some of the news generated from hot issues on social media, it could easily be seen as news without value.

Many people seem to think media outlets just copy hot issues from social media and paste them on their websites or broadcast them on TV. If this occurs, it is done because outlets want to lead traffic to their websites but there is a question mark over whether it is ethical and professional.

Apart from news provided by the traditional media, there is a lot of content considered news provided by websites that may not be reliable.

Today, fake news and hoax stories on news websites spread easily via social media. For example, last week a hoax that claimed Facebook would charge users US$2.99 (Bt96) a month from November went viral.

Some people doubt hoax stories and some believe them. When on the Net, people should be patient and thoroughly consider news stories.

People who love to get news online should read and watch a lot and not be in a hurry to believe someone. Check and investigate information and news before accepting it.

The beauty of social media is that it's user-generated content. For example, in the past week there was viral activity in the wake of the "Books Challenge" - #20FactAboutMe. This is an activity in which people tell their friends and followers on Facebook 20 true stories about themselves. This viral campaign has been dominant on social media's timeline and is still going on.

When you are on social media it is like you are at a street festival and there are a lot of colourful things but some things are good and some are not. We are overwhelmed with all the information, so we need to be cautious when we are online.

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