A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Getting It Right: Fact, Fiction and the Online Echo Chamber

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Funny comic below. It would be funnier if it weren’t so true.

The danger for you as a content marketer is not being careful about what you cite. Seeing it online doesn’t make it true. Seeing it in more than one place online doesn’t make it true. Even seeing it on the site of a major news organization doesn’t make it true.

There are too many examples of major news media repeating major errors to list, but check out Regret The Error website. The list all kinds of errors, including errors that follow exactly the pattern depicted in the XKCD strip. (For more fact-checking funhave a look at FactCheck.org.)

The best advice for any content marketer is, “if it smells funny, it probably is funny.” Check your sources closely, make an effort to corroborate facts across multiple sources wherever possible, and – not to be too cynical – examine your source material’s motives. Statistics about the safety of cigarettes from Altria/Philip Morris? Hmm …

Also be sure to cite your sources, and provide links where possible. If nothing else, it helps create a trail for other fact checkers to work back to primary source rather than perpetuating the error. You should do the same when corroborating facts – if all your sources are linking back to the same primary source, it had better be a rock solid primary source.


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