In today’s social media-driven world, it’s far too easy to take some “fact” found on the internet and run with it.
Just look at Twitter.
Celebrities are regularly murdered off by persons who feel that spreading fake death rumors is a valuable use of time.
These kinds of rumors will always persist and spread so long as you have people who are gullible enough to take information at face value without bothering with any form of research.
Some information, by its very nature, should immediately be suspect.
Take the article which has been floating around the internet this weekend, claiming that infamous criminal Charles Manson had finally been granted parole and would be released from prison.
Let's stop and think about this logically for a moment.
Do these words strike you as naturally existing in a sentence together without a shred of irony?
— Sheldon. Gajarian (@shskbob) June 6, 2014
While the idea itself raises red flags, there is also the fact that the original source of the rumor is Empire News, a satirical website.
It's kind of hilarious (and embarrassing) to think that anyone could believe everything on this site represents serious, non-satire based news. Onion-style humor has a market and some people like reading not-news stories, articles about events as they should have happened rather than as they actually occurred.
Having said that, one could almost understand why some individuals bought into this story.
After all, prison overcrowding is a serious issue, especially in the state of California. Making room by moving Manson out of the prison system in favor of housing a violent criminal half the age of Manson would almost be understandable.
Except Charles Manson isn't just ANY elderly prisoner.
The 79-year-old is a cult leader who went to jail for orchestrating a killing spree that took nine innocent lives. Among his victims are actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. The entire plan hatched by Manson and his brainwashed followers remains one of the most chillingly disturbing murder conspiracies in modern history.
As of 2012, Manson has been denied parole 12 times. There is nothing in his behavior that indicates he’s reformed or capable of even being reformed.
With the world wide web bringing so many disturbed people together, it’s not surprising that he has fans.
In the spirit of popular television show The Following, these are just the sort of people who, if he were released, could be easily convinced to help him pick up where he left off.
And so there are two lessons here:
(1) Trust nothing posted on social media that can’t be verified by a reputable source.
(2) If a story is posted on a website where every headline screams “parody”....it’s probably fake.
Image via Wikimedia Commons