A story recycles itself on social media and reappears as what seems to be a brand-new story, four years later. Most recently, a story on a double murder in an Othello orchard recycled itself on social media four years later. There are a few ways that can happen: Facebook will recirculate stories a year or more later as part of its look back function.
A potential problem happens when old news is seen as newand readers share and re-share old content. People are in a hurry. It’s easy to rush, only read the headline, and miss the date on the story.
Why is this a problem? Word of mouth misinformation can sway an election, distress former news-makers and their families, and possibly destroy someone’s reputation. A misinformed public could also assume a major crime happened yet again. Confusion can abound and it’s difficult, if not impossible, for reputable news organizations to sort through all the click bait, chase all the internet rumors and keep up with the erroneously shared stories that appear new.
In the case of the recently recirculated Othello double homicide story, Herald staff learned early in our fact-checking process the story was old. No one was harmed and inaccurate information did not publish.
This experience proves there is a need for trained journalists and reputable news organizations that strive to report the news fairly and accurately.