Avoiding outdated social media information

News

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Many of us turn to social media for news, but be aware, that post you read may be out of date by the time you get to it—and when you are dealing with fast moving events like a hurricane, that can be a problem..

Have you ever noticed a notification or push alert from Twitter that says “person ‘X’ just tweeted such and such” only to find out it was actually posted hours or even several days ago?

It can be frustrating and feels like click bait—even though the original sender did not intend it that way.

But, when we’re dealing with things like critical life-threatening issues like tracking the hurricane’s position — those “delayed posts” can be dangerously problematic.

Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia says he tried to mitigate that when he posted graphics showing the early positioning tracks of Hurricane Dorian.

He says he put a date and time on the image to let you know when it was posted.

But that’s not always feasible and besides, a lot of folks post stuff not only on Twitter but also on Facebook with no reference to the time. Then various social media artificial intelligence algorithms re-post it when they feel like it.

“We’ve had stories popping up on CBS 17 trend that are a year old because they’ve been caught up in some algorithm and trend on the site,” said Jeff Reeves, Digital Executive Producer at CBS 17.

He says there is a way to safeguard against outdated information on social media but you have to look carefully.

“It’s really important to look for a time stamp on that post to make sure you are getting the most recent information,” said Reeves.

He says the time stamp is located in different spots on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Sometimes it lists the number of hours since it was posted. Other times, it lists the date.  On news stories, it’s generally right under the name of whoever posted it.

But let’s face it—many folks won’t search for the time stamp—they see the post and react.

The bottom line—don’t rely solely on social media posts for up to the minute info on an evolving, or critical situation—it may or may not be up to date.

Instead, turn to trusted sources of information in the form of official websites or broadcast operations, like CBS 17, to verify the timeliness of the information you are seeing.

For more stories like this that matter to you, click here to download the CBS 17 News app for free.

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