Jesurgislac’s Journal

March 10, 2008

“It must be true! I read it on the Internet!”

Filed under: Google-fu — jesurgislac @ 12:19 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There’s a post here on Engadget which claims that in Brick Lane, London, the charity Living Streets is experimenting with padded lampposts for distracted texters.

Over on Iowa Liberal, the original Iowa Liberal wrote, in a post entitled The World Is Going To Hell: “Call me old fashioned, but how about letting them run into the posts until they friggin’ learn to look up?”

I checked out the website of the charity Living Streets (you can too: it’s www.livingstreets.org.uk) to find out if this story was actually true, rather than irresponsibly – and gullibly – just assuming that because I “read it on the Internet” it must be true. And yep: no reference to this anywhere on the Living Streets website.

I see the website links to an ITN video on YouTube, which looks to me very like the kind of short clip British news often put at the end of a news broadcast for light relief: it’s labelled “Comedy”. On Google News, “padded lampposts” gets six hits, not one of them a local London news source.

Call me old fashioned, but how about a little less gullibility and a little more research? If I could find out this is a joke, not a real Living Streets project, in something under ten minutes of easy research requiring no significant google-fu: so can you!

Not that this matters all that much: it has all the hallmarks of a delightful practical joke. But as a means of stopping the spread of lies through the Internet, nothing beats asking yourself “Just because this is a good story, is it true?” and looking up the facts for yourself.

Update: To do him credit, Jeromy found a followup link. It’s not a hoax, exactly: it’s an advert for a mobile phone company. (Though the local council was fooled into sending down contract cleaners to remove the padding from the lampposts, but the padding had already gone.)

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