The term “fake news” has largely (and rightfully) been discredited because, at best, it’s simplistic and, at worst, used to dismiss or discredit legitimate news providers. But there is such a thing as real fake news: misinformation and disinformation that goes viral in this digital age and then leads to real tragedy.
So the “Blue Whale” story is no longer about “fake news.” To Dan Reidenberg, managing director of SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), it’s about what we do as a society next – what we do about what may’ve been fake news that started in another part of the world but now has become real. Because two suicides in the U.S. have – as NJ1015.com in New Jersey has responsibly reported – “suspected links” to “Blue Whale.”
‘No need to panic’
Importantly, Newsweek and CNN both quote Dr. Reidenberg, a suicide prevention adviser to Facebook, as saying, “There is no need to panic, because this is not yet a crisis, rather a caution to alert people in advance.” What he called me about yesterday was the question no one has the answer to yet: how we get out in front of internationally viral stories so cynically dark and focused on youth that they spread fear among adults and curiosity and/or rebellion among youth, particularly vulnerable youth. How can we grow understanding among adults that keeps them – from the news media to police to educators to parents – from contributing to what Dan and other suicide prevention experts call “the copycat effect,” or suicide contagion. That’s the real danger of this originally fake news. Read more