Now that Obama’s dog has won the War on Christmas, or something, it’s time to get down to a war that really matters: the war on terrible, lying infographics, which have become endemic in the blogosphere, and constantly threaten to break out into epidemic or even pandemic status.
The reservoir of this disease of erroneous infographics is internet marketers who don’t care whether the information in their graphics is right … just so long as you link it. As a Christmas present to, well, everyone, I’m issuing a plea to bloggers to help stop this plague in its track.
The infographics are being used to get unwitting bloggers to drive up their google search rankings. When they get a link from Forbes, or a blogger like Andrew Sullivan–who is like Patient Zero for many of these infographics–Google thinks they must be providing valuable information. Infographics are so good at getting this kind of attention that web marketing people spend a lot of time writing articles about how you can use them to boost your SEO (search engine optimization).
So before you pick up that infographic, give it a good, hard look. Is it from a site with no real reason to be publishing it? Do some quick mental math checks make the “data” look pretty unlikely? Have the sources been made deliberately hard to check? If so, take your hand off the mouse before you post it to facebook, your blog, or your favorite email list. Remember: only you can prevent viral media from spreading.