Lies, Blogs, and Obama — Make it stop now

13Oct08

Today’s New York Times’ story, “The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama,” reveals the source responsible for planting the lie about Barack Obama being a Muslim, a lie that continues to this day to get alot of traction in certain circles.

The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy: “Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion.”

The article explains how Andy Martin started a “cyberwhisper campaign” to spread this lie and that the Internet has empowered him in ways that would never have been possible in the past. 

Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University who has investigated the e-mail campaign’s circulation and origins, “and it’s an example of how the Internet has given power to sources we would have never taken seriously at another point in time.”

Professor Allen’s assertion that the Internet has made it easier today for lies to be spread by clearly shady sources has some truth to it.  What is said in cyberspace doesn’t always stay in cyberspace.  One person — devoid of credibility yet armed with a blog or an e-mail account — can launch a smear campaign with the simple strike of the word “Publish.”  

But that’s the cyber-glass half empty.  The beauty of social media is this:  for every cynical, manipulative jackass launching a smear campaign online, there can — and must be — an army of those committed to setting the record straight. 

And so, here is my message.  If a coward and a liar uses social media to spew hate, we must answer that message with MORE social media to spread the truth.  Please join me.  Send this message (or your own) to shine the light on Mr. Martin’s lies.  Use every social media tool at your fingertips to isolate the liar and demonstrate the positive power of social media.

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