by Annie Tanella
In today’s digital age, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow local, national and even worldwide news to spread to millions in a matter of minutes. From announcements of snow days to the latest celebrity gossip, endless information is readily available to anyone with access to a computer. While there are many benefits to quickly travelling news, there are also many drawbacks. Because the internet has become so popular, many don’t think about the reliability of what they are reading.
A recent example of this phenomenon occurred in late September: a sixteen year-old girl from Clark posted a tweet requesting help because someone was supposedly in her house. Rumors that the girl, Kara Alongi, was missing spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook. The trending topic “#helpfindkara” reached Twitter’s top ten all over the country as millions of concerned social networkers prayed that this small-town teen, whom most had never even met, would soon be found.
However, Clark police soon release a statement saying that there was no evidence to indicate that Kara had been kidnapped. According to an nj.com article posted less than three days after the scare, Alongi was never kidnapped and ran away from home for undisclosed reasons. This situation goes to show that people who believe whatever they hear on the internet should to be more careful about what they believe and pass on to others.
Another instance in which social networking played a large role in the spread of information was the “KONY 2012” campaign. A nonprofit organization known as Invisible Children set out to stop Joseph Kony, an African war criminal, through a worldwide online campaign. According to washingtonpost.com, the video received over 87 million views in a matter of days. For a few days, people raised global awareness of Kony’s actions and for him to be stopped.
The KONY 2012 video raised an incredible amount of awareness, but after just a short period of support, the hype faded. Social networkers became uninterested in the controversy and began searching for the next social network fad. The efforts of Invisible Children was powerful at one point, but in the long run, was not very effective.
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