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  • Deborah Allen

Liar liar pants on fire..


Remember the taunts at school if someone was caught telling tales? The chanting would break out and ripple across the playground ‘liar, liar pants on fire’.

As children we were quick to point out anyone who was guilty of telling lies, yet it seems as adults we take secret joy in spreading the often-hurtful tales about other people.

Sometimes it’s about celebs, who they are sleeping with, who’s had surgery done and who is earning what. What business is that of ours?

Why do we feel that we have the right to comment on a marriage break up or decide if someone was justified in having surgery of one sort or another? At what point did the media change from providing us with factual news to providing us the spiteful gossip that used to be whispered across garden fences?

Often its whole groups who are targeted and who can’t hit back without exposing themselves to yet more vile hatred and lies. Not just via social media either, mainstream media joins in on these vicious and often groundless lies too.

In March 2016, a UK red top rag that calls itself a ‘newspaper’ published an article saying that chocolate manufacturers had “banned” use of the word “Easter” on the packaging of their products in order “to stop ‘offending’ other religions”. It wasn’t true, it was a lie… Not an urban myth or a hoax just a big fat lie.

The problem is this lie spread, it went viral, it appears on social media every year and even when one of the largest chocolate manufacturers stepped up and said it wasn’t true, the lie continued to be circulated. I have no doubt it will re-surface this year again, its most often bought back by racist groups trying to stir up hatred. The same goes for the stories about Christmas decorations and people saying Happy Christmas.

Then there are the tales about HIV infected blood in ketchup, soft drinks, baby food etc etc, none of which is true, but some idiot will post it on social media and even when told it’s a lie they refuse to delete it. The first soft drink story was in 2011 and was about Pepsi and its resurfaced a few times with the name of different soft drink inserted. All lies, all stirring up fear and hatred of innocent people.

I recently saw a post claiming a brand of dog flea treatment had caused serious burns to a dog. As always, I referred to a hoax checker and it turns out that the same photo and story has been going around for several years and the only thing that changes is the name of the flea treatment. I pointed this out to the person who posted it. Her reply? ‘well it could happen you know’ I replied to her with a link to the hoax checker showing it was clearly a lie. Her response was to say she would leave the post up ‘just in case’

Just in case of what? That more idiots wanted to spread her stupid little lie? That someone might enjoy seeing a picture of an injured dog? Tell me why, because as far as I can see there is no good reason to let this lie continue.

Of course, we can all be caught out, a friend shares something saying please warn anyone you know this is dangerous and in that moment of concern you press share, but if its exposed as a lie don’t you want to remove it? Doesn’t the truth matter anymore?

Press share …

That’s innocent enough isn’t it?

Well in some cases its anything but. People call them hoaxes or refer to them as urban legends but to give these stories their real name you have to say they are lies ...big fat ugly lies. In some cases, I think they even qualify as libellous, because if you spread a lie about a person or company then you are a part of the lie and therefore guilty of libel. In spreading a lie, you can be part of a thing that damages or causes a person or company harm. Its not so innocent after all.

Think about the people who said they would boycott a chicken fast food chain because a lie was spread saying the fast food chain had refused to serve a child and her family because of the childs facial injuries. That fast food chain will lose custom and therefore money because of such a lie and why should they?

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media because it helps me stay in touch with far away family and friends plus it gives me and many others a free platform for us to promote our work. The problem is that if we let it become overrun with these lies it will be useless.

We constantly see stories (and that is a good word for these works of fiction) on social media (and some ‘newspapers’) claiming all sorts of things have been banned because of a certain group or claiming that a particular group is out to get innocent people.

Normally I try to just report the social media posts as spam or as offensive and if a person keeps posting the lies I will block them. I issue warnings regularly on my social media accounts to this effect. I try not to get involved although sometimes the bare faced cheek and dishonesty riles me so badly I feel I must reply.

As regards newspapers, I stopped buying a paper nearly 30 years ago because I was sick of reading gossip and half truths I have seen nothing to convince me that they have changed in any way, if anything they are worse now than ever before.

So, my plea is this, when you see a story on social media use a hoax checker, Snopes is the most well known but there are loads out there. If it’s a hoax aka a lie, tell the person who posted it and ask them to remove it, if they don’t, report the post as spam.

Take a stand for honesty and decency and let put a stop to this culture of lies and hate.

Easter is on April 1st this year that’s April fool’s day, if you re-post or continue to spread the lie about the Easter eggs the only fool is you!


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