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Everyone agrees that the democratization of content makes everyone content creators. What’s not talked about enough is the responsibility that comes with that incredible power. So while losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising more are all worthy commitments, I’d like to submit my humble New Year’s resolutions for consideration by everyone in our community.

  • Companies: Make sure you have the technology in place to get the latest version of the truth any time. Advanced technologies on integrated platforms (e.g., SAP HANA) offer unprecedented access to quality data of all kinds from many places. Use it wisely and you can transform your business.
  • Consumers: Before you impulsively retweet or forward words and images, research where it came from. Repeating false or misinformation is just as egregious as making it up yourself. Like any other communications tool, online technologies can be a weapon or pathway to genuine dialogue. Investigate and think before you hit send. And remember, opinions are NOT the same thing as facts.
  • Media: Triple check your sources before you go live with information. Being first shouldn’t trump being accurate.
  • Law Enforcement Officials: Don’t share information with the media until a thorough investigation is complete. The public would rather have the truth, digital world notwithstanding.
  • Everyone: Resist the urge to confuse real-time information with accuracy. Just because it’s gone viral on the internet doesn’t automatically make it true.

Of course, trust is foundational to this entire conversation. There seems to be an assumption that veracity is a given since ‘regular people’ are sharing their so-called personal stories. We’ve all had moments when we’ve realized this simply isn’t the case. For example, I recently received a promotional email from a company I had purchased services from. In exchange for a review from me on Yelp, they would enter my name in a drawing to win a fairly substantial prize. In response to my email telling them the promotion was antithetical to the purpose of Yelp, they were disingenuous. Apparently, Yelp told them it was okay to solicit reviews as long as the company didn’t ask people to write positive ones. What's more, they asserted that negative reviews were more valuable to them. The implication was that everyone had an equal chance of winning. Right.

The point is, the value of real-time data is not just about speed. Information quality is just as important. Let’s welcome 2013 with a deep breath of resolve to think first, then share. Take the time to ask: Where did this information come from? Has the accuracy been checked and by whom? Is this a trustworthy source?  It’s part of everyone’s responsibility, and will help us all have a Happy, Healthier, Safer New Year!

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