The Price of “FREE” News and Information

Back then, there were chain letters (连环信) and the likes of “Send-a-dime” or “Prosperity Club.”

And in our not too distant past, there were chain emails. Remember those? Some of the examples on BuzzFeed might jog your memory (BuzzFeed, accessed March 29, 2020). Electronic chain letters. Fancy!

But whoa. WHAT HAPPENED? Today, fake news is pervasive. It is e-very-where. Disguised as “news” or “real” information. Twitter. YouTube. FaceBook. WhatsApp. You name it. All of them.

As much as I love free stuff, I am also well aware that there is a price for good information. If good information is not free, where did free information come from? Hm…

Take food for example and take a look at McDonald’s dollar menu. (Yes, I patronize this establishment–globally–which has deep-rooted ties to Chicago!) It is cheap alright. But is McD’s dollar menu what you would go for if you want to be strong and healthy? Probably not.

Much like food where there is a price for quality, there is definitely a price for credible and good information. Much of the free stuff we get from the web or our social media is unvetted information with a high chance of being false, which in many ways is far, far worse than McD’s dollar menu. Seriously.

The price of free news and information is the drowning of truths in a sea of falsehood. Stopping the pervasiveness of false information may be impossible at this point. But, what is doable is for each of us to vet the information before we share it to our family and friends. Step up. Take the responsibility. Stop passing the buck.

In short, if you are not sure where a message, a video or a nice infograph came from, fight the urge and don’t forward it. Echoing the message of a few governments in the world fighting fake news: Not sure, don’t share. And in Malay: Tidak pasti, jangan kongsi.

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