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There are many posts on social media that are a load of rubbish and just plain factually incorrect. They often end in “if you don’t share a fairy will die” or some such nonsense having bad luck. I usually just ignore them because it’s not worth the effort of entering a discussion with the person who shared the post and don’t cause much harm IMO.

However sometimes these posts are dangerous because they give bad medical advice, such as the posts about so-called “cough CPR”. A quick Google will usually take you to a site like Skeptics.SE or Snopes.com which has the facts.

In such cases I’ll sometimes post a quick comment like

Sorry but this ones a myth 🙁

With a link to a Skeptics, Snopes, or some other site with some info.

However I don’t want to be the person that’s always telling people they’re wrong, even if they are, as often the posts are shared with good intentions.

So how can I politely inform people the post they shared is wrong/dangerous/bad advice without being annoying?

Bonus if you know how to get them to stop sharing such stuff in the first place.

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So how can I politely inform people the post they shared is wrong/dangerous/bad advice without being annoying?

You refer them to a neutral authority.

You comment "Sorry but this ones a myth" could be just as wrong as the post. It's a situation where your word stands against another ones, but the other one has shared their word a thousand times already. What will people believe?

If a quick Google search brings up a neutral, reliable source of a counter argument, you should quote this source and add a link to the article you're citing. Depending on the kind of myth / lie that is being spread, you could:

  • Arouse the interest of readers like "Have a look at the Mythbusters taking that claim apart with dynamite"
  • Rectify the facts in a humorous way, "fun fact: spinach contains ten times less iron than you believe because some scientific assistant put the comma in the wrong place."
  • Actually warn people of false claims: "There have been X death cases because people believed this crap. Here's the scientific proof that this miracle medicine actually harms your body."
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Just do it, honestly. People need to stop using social media as a vessel for false information in the name of moral righteousness or "likes, shares, karma, upvotes, follows, retweets", etc, because that's the only motivator for people to do it. People share selfies with their dying grandmas on their deathbeds for crying out loud, and regardless their apparent motivation, it's subconsciously for the attention.

You need to post a link or just arge the cold facts with sources cited saying why ____ is false. Even the most informed people share obviously fake new, tips, and hacks. Getting into unchecked information can lead to dangerous consequences. Look up "how to grow crystals ammonia gas", "iphone Wave charger hack", or "heat spoon in microwave for easy scoop ice cream" just for example. There are plenty of useless ones like "Will Ferrell died!" or "State police are performing Operation Bumblebee and cracking down on speeding!" The whole culture of false information when a simple Google reveals facts, is breeding gross amounts of unacceptable ignorance. Not to get too political but so much of the stories about Trump or his administration's related issues are out-of-context, miscaptioned, or completely false.

Just be up front. If people want to be idiots and not fact check and share information without citations, then you must help them see what's wrong else stand by and watch as they spread ignorance.

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