The Misuse of the Internet Can Be a Dangerous Tool to Promote False Information
Written by CHUMA
Oh God, I have always loved Chinese food. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where you can find Chinese restaurants on every corner that permeated the air with its alluring aroma of herbs and spices (and let's not forget the cholesterol laden chicken wings and French fries). I ate this addictive stuff well into my adulthood, and I can remember ordering chicken that sometimes didn't look exactly like chicken parts. But the yum yums were so enticing and irresistible, I convinced myself it wasn't possible that it could be anything else besides chicken, and wolfed it down as if it was my last meal on earth. Then...
This morning I received this email entitled I'm Done With Chinese Food Forever!!! After reading how a particular restaurant in Newark, New Jersey was closed for serving rats in lieu of chicken to its customers, I became grossed out. So I took it upon myself to search the internet to see if this disturbing report came up reputable. My search revealed the following:
1. Although this was reported on many blogs, it was not reported by any reputable news source.
2. One blog claimed it was a restaurant in Vancouver. Another targeted a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. Then another one purported the photos to be from an eatery in Montgomery, Alabama--each one targeting a specific restaurant in these cities. So the email I received about the one in Newark, New Jersey had to be false as well.
3. According to snopes.com, an urban myth Internet database, this is definitely an untruth. It stated that most likely these are pictures of rats being prepared for consumption in Asia, where rats are a delicacy.
This is just one example of how the misuse of the internet can be so insidiously damaging, mainly because there is just too much information being disseminated for it to be meticulously regulated. Anyone can write anything, and replicate it as an article from a reliable news source with just a little cut and paste, and some graphic art assistance using a believable logo from CNN or any credible establishment.
But why? Why do people use such wasted time and energy on fabricating stories, which usually result in hurting others or damaging reputations? One of my friends mentioned that she believes that it sometimes goes beyond a sick sense of humor, but more intently about power and control to see how many people they can scare or how many people will forward their hoax through cyberspace. Considering most of us are reflexive forwarders (yes, I am guilty sometimes), then it is easy for these concocted, misrepresentations of truth to mutate with rapid speed across the information super highway.
I remember receiving an email about Dwayne Martin and Tisha Campbell's divorce, all due to his rumored homosexual relationship with Will Smith. I wondered just how true this terrible news was. So I Goggled it, and the results were a myriad of opinions from bloggers, but nothing in the concrete world of news. Later, Dwayne Martin and Tisha Campbell came forward to express that their marriage was still very well intact, and that the vicious story was just a rumor being circulated. I wondered to myself, Why would someone do such a thing? Who did they piss off? Perhaps, it was neither. It could have just been some nut job who was bored. Who knows? But I do know that this sort of information could destroy lives if people continue to forward, promote, and glorify this stuff as truth. It's always best to verify the legitimacy of these emails before we share them. Unfortunately (blame it on reflex; I'm working on it!), I forwarded this maligning email before the light bulb came on to research its authenticity.
Furthermore, these injurious emails not only contain fabricated news stories, but they also carry misleading statistics or financial reports, false virus alerts, and pyramid schemes, while other spam emails are used to fraudulently steal credit card and password information, which is another topic for later discussion. I just pointed these out to beware.
In the meantime, the "Continue reading" link below contains the email I received this morning. I thought I'd still share, even though it's false. Remember you can't always believe the hype.