Information spreads quickly online; facts move a little slower

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PHOENIX -- When videos and stories go viral, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. Once it's out there, it's out there -- even if it's wrong.

On "Good Morning! Arizona" Monday, a misunderstood utterance went viral. Some people thought they heard an inappropriate comment during the show, but the word they believed they heard was never said. Still, that didn't stop people from tweeting and posting a video -- a recording of a recording -- on YouTube.

"The big reason it went viral is because people enjoy the cesspool of life," explained digital media strategist and social media expert Evo Terra. "You can make your own story out of something. You hear what you want to hear, you spread it with your friends and they say, 'Oh yeah, I heard that, too.'"

It happened while Kaley O'Kelley and Scott Pasmore were chatting with Johnjay and Rich. Ironically, the topic was how "mobile technology appears to be increasing the public appetite for news" and how information is relayed, especially through social media channels.

Johnjay gave an example, sharing to a tweet he had just received about Peyton Manning. O'Kelley, referring to a bet with her father about where Manning would end up, said, "I just lost a buck." What some people heard, however, was completely different, and that's what spread through the online world.

It's not the first time information masquerading as fact has spread throughout the Internet at lightning speed. It's actually more common than many would like to think.

"What we infer from that information is our own, but it will spread. We are a highly connected society and world, and we like to share," Terra explained. "We want to be the first one with the breaking news. Much like news anchors want to be that way, we want to be that way in social media, too."

Facts tend to move slower than information, and while news organizations are tasked with verifying facts before running with them, the general public is not. Anybody can post pretty much anything online and others will share that information in any numbers of ways, often before they know the facts. It's up to individuals, who are often bombarded with content from a variety of sources, to be discerning.

The bottom line, according to Terra, is that nobody can control what is said via social media. You can, however, control how you respond.