Internet death post involving former Laker shows gossip sites unreliable

November 9, 2015 — by Allison Lin

Recently, Facebook newsfeeds have been filled with posts and links that direct users to external gossip sites and celebrity news outlets.

Recently, Facebook newsfeeds have been filled with posts and links that direct users to external gossip sites and celebrity news outlets. This feature adds to the entertainment factor of the social media medium, but it also raises the issues of libel and false information. The question is: Which news sites can I trust?

My hesitation to believe certain news outlets began on the afternoon of Oct. 13 when I was walking toward the parking lot after school. I swiped through my iPhone apps and tapped on the infamous blue square to open up my Facebook newsfeed. I stopped in my tracks as the first headline by E!Online read: “Former NBA star Lamar Odom in coma.” Concerned, I opened up the link to read more information about his drug overdose mishap, as Odom had been one of my favorite Lakers players back in 2004.

I continued to hurriedly scroll down my newsfeed and came across another post by TmzToday: “Lamar Odom pronounced dead at 35.” My eyes widened as my mouth dropped open.

Directly beneath, an invitation for me to “like” a new Facebook page named “R.I.P. Lamar Odom” flashed onto the screen. Seeing that it had already garnered above one million “likes” and a flurry of condolence messages from fans, my heart sank to my stomach.

I couldn’t believe it. I grew up watching Odom play forward and slam dunks into the hoop. Something felt off.

Frantically typing “Lamar Odom health update” into Google, I looked for a more recent post.

I let out a huge sigh of relief as I tapped on Us Weekly’s latest update. Odom was still in a coma, but he was still alive.

As angry as I was at Odom for risking his life and overdosing on drugs, I was angrier at Tmz Today.

Teenagers especially need to be cautious about what they “repost,” “retweet,” and “share” on social media. There are other consequences in believing a single news site that isn’t a credible news network. Sites that show you a health benefit or endorse a new type of medicine can also be completely falsified.

In the past, I’ve often used my Facebook news feed to update myself on the latest celebrity gossip. I have, however, never paid a lot of attention to the sites in which the articles come from. Sites such as Hollywood Life, and Us Weekly are generally more trustworthy than Buzzfeed Celeb, The Dishh and Radar Online.

Before trusting these sites, you should take the steps to search for other sources of information or confirm with a more credible source.

Nevertheless, after the Odom debacle, my trust in these sites has faded. I will continue to read their posts for everyday celebrity gossip and other lighthearted stories, but I will return to the world of Yahoo News, CNN and NBC News next time for accurate, fact-checked information on a major breaking news story.