What is responsible sharing and why should we do it?
In today’s highly connected world, it’s important to be a responsible digital citizen. This means taking part in the online community in a safe, ethical and respectful way. When you share responsibly, you ensure that information you pass on to your community is verified, constructive and benefits others.
This becomes even more relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, as everyone spends more time online to consume content, communicate and make purchases. They also turn to online platforms to get the latest updates regarding the pandemic.
What are the consequences of irresponsible sharing?
The irresponsible sharing of information can lead to a number of negative consequences. It can cause potential financial loss through scams, generate unnecessary panic and confusion during developing emergency situations, and perpetuate negative feelings or actions on public platforms.
- Hoaxes and scams: When we share information that is not verified, it can mislead others into believing hoaxes and falling for scams. For instance, a fake email circulating in March 2020 claimed to be sent by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The “personal email” gave an update on the COVID-19 situation, and encouraged its readers to respond with “contributions and thoughts”. By replying to the hoax email, unwitting respondents would fall prey to a phishing scam – hackers and criminals would get access to their personal information.
- Spread of unnecessary fear: Sharing untrue information can also spread unnecessary fear. In April 2020, there were text messages being circulated that the Singapore Police Force was proactively enforcing safe distancing measures by doing spot checks at residential units. This unsubstantiated information had the ability to cause public alarm. The Police have since clarified that the message is false, with the caveat that they will step in to enforce safe distance measures if they come across such transgressions when attending to other types of incidents.
- Negative cyber environment:When we share negative content and comments online about other people, it has a real impact on their feelings and emotions. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic and its Circuit Breaker measures have given rise to the number of online vigilantes who take extreme measures when reporting those who flout safe distancing rules. Some of them directly confront and video those who they believe are not conforming to the rules, and in extreme cases, shame and verbally abuse their victims. In an already tense environment, sharing negative and humiliating content does nothing to help the situation other than create a climate of fear and suspicion.
How do you practise responsible sharing?
Before you share anything, T.H.I.N.K. twice and ask yourself the following:
Is it True?
- Check against other reliable sources and news channels to verify if the content is real. True content is often reported across many channels.
- Run the story through websites such as Factually for Singapore-related content or FactCheck or Snopes for international content. These websites exist to check if a story is real or fake.
- You can also check www.gov.sg/features/covid-19 for the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic in Singapore.
- To check if an unverified content or message is a scam, go to scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam hotline at 1800-772-6688.
Is it Helpful?
- Often, headlines use exaggerated words to grab attention instead of giving helpful information about the article. Before you share it, read the full story and assess if the article is a helpful source of information.
- Is the information presented really factual, or is it opinion masquerading as fact? Often, individuals may have their own motives for creating the content.. Think about what motives the content creator may have before you share it.
- Hoaxes and scams may also entice victims with unbelievable benefits, such as free vouchers and large sums of money for very little effort. While you may think that you’re sharing a great deal with your friends, it’s always better to verify if it’s real first.
Is it Inspiring?
- Consider if the content helps to move others to act in a positive way, and if it supports a meaningful cause that you believe in, such as a movement that supports those affected by COVID-19.
- Think if you would be proud to have your name associated with the creators of the content or comment that you are sharing. Would you want your name and face associated with the creators of the content? If your name and face were attributed to a comment you’re sharing, would you be proud of it?
- Contributing to a positive cyber world means that we share content that inspires and uplifts over content that drives negativity.
Is it Necessary?
- Before sharing any information, consider if what you’re sharing is necessary for the community’s benefit. Consider if the opinion you want to share really needs to be voiced, and whether it will have any negative impact on anyone.
- Avoid oversharing personal information. Your personal texts, videos and messages may be shared or leaked even if it was intended to be private.
- Keep your sensitive personal information such as your phone number, address and birth date private as much as possible. You also should turn off geo-tagging or location settings on your phone and social media, to avoid sharing your daily movements with strangers.
Is it Kind?
- When you’re sharing a comment or piece of content, consider if the words, tone and attitude are kind.
- As a general rule of thumb, don’t say anything online that you would not say to someone’s face. An online comment can often hurt long after it has been posted, as it may continue to stay online even after it has been taken down due to sharing or screenshots.
- Before you share something, consider if anyone would be hurt by the content you’re about to send. If you’re sharing something entertaining at the expense of someone else, you could be unintentionally causing harm.
Be Aware of What You Share
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