Steve Dempsey: The truth isn’t out there: how online media is struggling with unchecked viral content

Remember Tony Hart, the BBC children’s art show presenter from the 1950s until the late 90s? Well, he was big news on social media last week when it was reported that he had died. But there was a problem with the rumour. No, he wasn’t alive and well:

22nd February, 2015

The confusion seems to have been caused by someone sharing a six-year-old report from the Guardian on Facebook, without noticing the date. The Guardian saw organic referrals to the article from Facebook exploding on Sunday night. The first tweet mentioning Hart’s death included a link to the 2009 article via Facebook.

Hart’s beloved status was such that his second coming (or should that be going?) was spotted and scotched quite quickly. But not before...

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