Monday, 19 September 2011

Chinese Whispers on Facebook

Another hoax springs up this morning, and one that is especially sad.

According to a posting doing the rounds on Facebook:

The Royal British Legion are not selling poppies in certain areas this year. This is because some minorities say that it will upset them. The poppy is a symbol of reverence for our fallen heroes of all the wars the BRITISH military have fought in. BRITAIN STAND UP AND SAY 'WE WANT THE POPPY SOLD EVERYWHERE IN THE UK'. THIS IS OUR RIGHT TO REVERE OUR FALLEN.. Copy and paste this if you think poppies should be sold everywhere... R.I.P fallen soldiers

If it were true, that would indeed be shocking. However, once again, this is a hoax. What's happened here is that one news story about poppy-selling (the problems relate to local council red tape and have nothing whatsoever to do with minorities of any kind) has been picked up and expanded into an excuse for anti-minorities propaganda. The very useful That's Nonsense site gives the story, and includes a link to the original report in The Telegraph.

If you can't be bothered to follow the links and read the full story, the truth is quite simple.

Simple, isn't it? A bit of red tape to disentangle, some commonsense and sensitivity from other charities, and the whole thing is resolved. Not a dickie-bird about 'minorities' being upset. Yet this bit of crap is presently flying all over the social media networks in a frenzy of self-righteous indignation.

It's too easy to believe this sort of thing, and to get very upset about such stories... and the anger and indignation would be reasonable if they were true. The knee-jerk reaction is to repost, to cut-and-paste, to get this shocking message out as soon as possible.

Please don't. Please consider every posting - just for a few seconds - before you throw it into that great melting-pot of speculation, rumour, deliberate falsehood and manipulation of public opinion that is the internet. That is, by the way, the same internet that is also a source of inspiration, valuable information, sharing, generosity and the highlighting of genuine concerns.

It isn't hard to find out which of those categories the latest alarmist posting belongs to. Truly. Try it.

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