How bloggers get it wrong

The internet is full of big, fat lies.

Last week a story  called It’s official — cell phones are killing bees, about how bees are dying because of cell phone signals, went viral on the web, spreading faster than a swarm of killer bees. Thousands of people re-posted the story of how our world is being destroyed by technology, one insect at a time.

The story stated that research conducted in Switzerland shows that the signal from cell phones confuses bees, and may lead to their death. It went on to say that cell phone calls act as a warning to leave the hive, and the cell signal frequency causes confusion, making them fly erratically. It said the study found that the bees’ buzzing noise increases when cell phone signals are being transmitted.

A couple of days later the truth came out when it was reported that the false message began with a sensational headline from a British tabloid newspaper. The Daily Mail, which picked up the  story from a year-old scientific journal, did not include the false message that bees were dying directly related to cell phone use, but the headline read:  Why a mobile phone ring may make bees buzz off: Insects infuriated by handset signals and the lead sentence said: Phone signals confuses bees and cause them to begin flying erratically before suddenly dying.

The story was picked up by bloggers, who rarely check facts or take the time to read beyond the first sentence of a story. They take a headline or story from another source, occasionally take the time to rewrite it and post it as their own … never bothering to take a second look at their source, or to fact check the information.

In a world of would-be reporters and writers calling themselves “journalists” we have to read with a critical eye. Does that community website you’re checking have an agenda (hidden or otherwise); is that magazine or newsletter article you’re reading giving you useful, unbiased information, or is it just trying to sell you on a business or product? And what about that blog information — is it accurate? Take time to go to the source of a story, don’t be fooled by pseudo-journalism written by those with a bias. Get your information from a trusted source and check the facts yourself before passing along misleading information.

In these days of “who got it first” we need to verify “who got it right”.