Truth is the first casualty in the digital war for attention.
Throughout 2013, a rash of hoaxes perpetuated online have reminded us of the fragile nature of credibility in the digital world. So many attention-grubbing pranksters have hijacked digital media that CNN has declared 2013 as the year of the hoax. But 2013 is just the tip of the iceberg. Hoaxes perpetrated by entertainers, everyday people, and brands threaten to disrupt the Internet on a constant basis. Just within recent days, a rash of self-promotional hoaxes have bamboozled the news media, tarnished a national brand, and shamelessly capitalized on the death of a global hero to sling mud at a celebrity. In all cases, hoaxers are taking advantage of the “me, too, me, first” culture that pervades the digital world. It’s time to slow down and exercise some good old-fashioned critical thinking.