Today news start on Social Media and live on Social Media. If something is not on Twitter, it didn’t happen. We see many cases of politicians or traditional media completely obscured by the voice of the Web. But there’s always a dark side: when something comes from the Internet, we can’t always tell if it’s true or false. The viral video of the day is not about funny cats, hilarious accidents or some creative stunt by an advertising genius. It’s about a man that basically announced the end of the world, and nobody can tell if he’s right or wrong.
#crisis is often a trending topic on Twitter, worldwide. It should have been like this for the last 3 or 4 years, but it’s only nowadays that we can really feel the “long tail” of this crisis, only now we realize it might never end. Therefore, just a couple of minutes of a guy talking on BBC can give the world a panic attack:
As soon as I saw Alessio Rastani interview on BBC I tried to understand what was going on. Sentences like “the governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world” or “in less than 12 months, my prediction is, the savings of millions of people are going to disappear” are very impactful, so I just wanted to know more. The thing is Google, in its infinite wisdom, gave me a series of contrasting information about that video. Definitely a curious video, where a BBC speaker says “jaws have collectively dropped at what you just said”, and where a random man innocently states he loves crisis, because he can make money.
There are people saying that the broker shouldn’t be allowed to say things like those, people blindly believing him, and people saying he’s part of the counter-cultural group The Yes Men, whose members spoof governments and corporations through Web and mainstream media. As the video started to spread, thousands of different opinions invaded the Internet, and BBC was forced to publish a press release explaining the situation to save its own credibility to the eyes of the world. The Telegraph reported that he’s not a trader from the City but a random guy living off the backs of his partner in a suburban area of London, with less than £1,000 in his bank account. Apparently Rastani said “I agreed to go because I’m an attention seeker.” Thousands of newspapers and blogs talked about him in the last 48 hours, same topic but different points of view. The Daily Mail asked: “How did the BBC mistake ‘hobby’ trader who lives in a pebbledash semi for a Master of the Universe?” The only thing we know is there’s a big confusion, in real time.
And the 7,000 fans Facebook page of the broker is a clear example of what’s going on: half of the people are thanking him, because he opened a breach on the obscure powers that rule the world; the other half just insult him, saying he’s got no rights to appear on BBC with predictions about such a serious matter. Everything is really, really confused. Even the comments on the Youtube video (that hit more than 1MM views) are almost equally divided between who considers him the only voice of truth and who sees him as a pile of boloney. Someone says “Now I want to hear Rebecca Black’s opinion on the subject”. Someone else says “I just wanna take a gun and hang myself .” Interesting.
Social networks changed the way we know what happens around us. They changed the time, they changed the value of the source. Most of the time we are glad we have Internet because, at the end of the day, it is always possible to find the truth. But it’s not like that: Internet gives us hundreds of sources, thousands of voices, millions of opinions, but not the key to understanding the issue. Social Media is the only “place” most of us find information, but there’s no moderator. It’s up to us to decide whether something is right or wrong, true or false, original or fake, real news or a PR stunt. Even the BBC people, sometimes, doesn’t even know if what they’re saying is legitimate or not.
There’s a storm out there, a storm of comments, of articles, a storm of hashtags about the #rastani case. But only one thing is sure: WE have to decide wether to believe him or not.