The rise of “Did you know? Tweeter
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Last week, a woman tweeted a warning to her followers: “Apparently some random strangers are walking around asking people to smell their perfume, but it contains medicine that will put you to sleep.”
The tweet received more than 6,800 likes and 4,800 retweets. However, as people have pointed out in the replies, the story of the scented drug is a urban legend it was demystified several times. snopes wrote about it in 2000, stating that “it is difficult to think of a substance that could produce the instantaneous unconsciousness described here”.
People share urban legends as a fact on social apps is not newbut the tweet got me thinking about the kinds of viral tweets I’ve seen popping up in my Twitter feed lately: tweets about the human condition, dating, health, etc. that seem to offer wise wisdom, but often contain unsubstantiated claims. Some of them are horror stories. Some of them are silly tweets that make sweeping generalizations about a group of people.
“Apparently now you can just tune in and tweet like ‘a close doctor friend tells me that more and more people are coming in with little creatures in their ears – some having burrowed all the way to their brains.’ Regarding’ and reliably get like 40,000 gullible likes. Regarding,” tweeted writer Ben Flores (@limitlessjest).
Maybe it’s because we’re more than two years in one pandemic while remaining fumbling the answer to new outbreaks, but scary or shocking tweets make big numbers.
There is also an increase in “Did you knowtweets, usually phrased in a way that makes a symptom or behavior an indicator of something else. This can be seen in “trauma response” tweets, for example “X is actually a trauma response.” Tweets and videos about trauma are now ubiquitous, leading to talk about word lose its meaning.
why is it important
There are a lot of misinformation on any platform. Viral tweets explaining why everyone in one certain generation behaves a certain way, or how an activity you do daily is actually harmful can even influence the the most suspicious users. We all seek to connect over universal thoughts and experiences, and these viral tweets act as a form of confirmation bias.
But fact-checking a viral tweet is important, even if the tweet is from a so-called specialist. In the case of the tweet about the perfume that contains a powerful drug, the first response comes from someone asking for a source of information. The woman’s response? “I saw it briefly on TikTok.”
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*First published: August 20, 2022, 6:00 a.m. CDT
Tiffany Kelly is the culture editor of Daily Dot. Previously, she worked at Ars Technica and Wired. His writing has appeared in several other print and online publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Popular Mechanics, and GQ.