Jim Zachary

Jim Zachary

Facebook was brand new.

Mrs. Zachary found it.

She was quite disturbed when she read the story of the dreaded toilet spider there.

She needed to warn everyone that she cares about because it seems the dreaded toilet spider came to the U.S. via an airplane ride from some obscure part of the world, and now it was living in toilets everywhere and biting people on the you-know-what, killing them almost instantly with its poisonous venom.

There's only one problem: the dreaded toilet spider simply does not exist.

Still she had already alerted everyone she knew and Mr. Zachary had to be the one to have the difficult conversation about sharing spurious information -- not a great moment.

Simply posting something on the Internet does not make it true. Even viral videos sometimes are not what they seem to be.

Video can be altered, edited, falsified or simply contained a select portion of what actually took place.

Anyone can post anything on YouTube or Facebook.

That's why newspapers assume the responsibility to fact check.

That does not mean newspaper reporters, and editors, cannot be duped or that they do not make mistakes.

Still, newspapers take what they do seriously and have high standards for verifying the information published in print or online.

Today, newspapers strive to post information as soon as it is available. The goal of any newspaper is to be the leading source of information.

Being the leading source of information only matters if that information is accurate and reliable.

How many times have you read something on Facebook only to find out later it was simply not true?

Newspapers always hope to be the first when it comes to sharing the news, but should never sacrifice credibility to beat the social media crowd. There are also people and organizations -- some even claiming to be the media -- that are quick to post anything sensational or scandalous, whether it has been verified or not.

You should be able to trust what you read in the printed newspaper or on the newspaper's website.

But please don't think something is true just because you saw it on the internet.

While you may have confidence in the veracity of what comes from your local newspaper, the internet, and especially Facebook, is full of things, such as the dreaded toilet spider, that are simply not true.

Still, it's hard not to take a look before taking a seat on the restroom throne.

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