BY THE time you read this, it will have been a week since Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing en route to Beijing.
The plane’s disappearance made headlines within hours and generated huge public interest. Faster than traditional media, social media is a key source of information flowing around the clock.
What has been flowing non-stop are the pictures and messages of support to the missing crew and passengers and the moral support being given to their families and friends. Yet, there was no sign of the missing plane as of yesterday.
Most theories that might solve the mystery have been rebutted or challenged.
News of the missing plane has in turn raised other issues or flaws.
Investigators found that two passengers on the missing flight were using fake passports. But even the pictures of the passengers shown by a Malaysian police officer to the media contained flaws. Netizens noticed that the two men in the pictures had the same bottom half – the bag, trousers and shoes.
A Malaysian official told Agence France-Presse that the mistake was unintentional – it had occurred while someone was photocopying the photos.
Unintentional is, perhaps, understandable. However, fake information spread on purpose, even for a joke, should be condemned as it only adds to the confusion about this tragedy.
Pictures of a previous airline accident were doctored and circulated in Chinese forums, for example. The logo on the plane was replaced with the Malaysia Airlines logo.
Of course, things circulated on the Internet can spread quickly, especially when it has a headline that says the passengers on flight MH370 survived miraculously.
The hopes of the relatives were given a rude jolt when it turned out to be pictures of a plane that crashed into the Hudson River in New York in 2009 and all the passengers survived.
There was something worse on Facebook. A hoax was posted stating the plane was found in the Bermuda Triangle. Before people could close the link, they are forced to share it and the hoax went viral.
On Tuesday, Phra Paisal Visalo shared a link from Gizmodo.com. It was a tale involving a picture of a sexy woman, which if traced back by reverse Photoshop, a surprising origin would be found.
A Facebook user posted a comment asking for clarification on why the monk shared the picture. The monk said he wanted people to learn about the media.
He also pointed out that both men and women can suffer from what they see. Ladies, especially, might suffer from thinking they are not as pretty as they would like to be, while the pictures in the media they see are actually doctored.
You can find the answer yourself by searching for the video clip by CollegeHumor titled “Photoshop has gone too far”, which has gained more than five million views on YouTube already.
An advantage of the online world is that everybody can participate. Everybody can contribute information and comments.
But the information can either be reliable or fake.
Another advantage is everybody can help verify things. For pictures, try Google Image Search to find out information about a picture.