Beyond PR

Aug 18, 2011

SXSW Panel Picker: Vetting Content in the Age of Social

Content credibility in the social age. Who's vetting it? A proposed panel for SXSW 2012. Click the image to access the SXSW Panel Picker and cast a vote for this panel!

Update!  Our panel was picked!  Add it to your SXSW 2012 schedule:


We all know them – the inveterate forwarder of e-mail “news.”   They dutifully forward prayer requests for grievously injured children or animals, histrionic political diatribes and proven hoax after proven hoax.  Despite your best efforts, they refuse to visit Snopes or make any effort to verify the veracity of the messages they forward to their entire address book.

I have a family member who I believe is one of the leading sources of e-mail spam,  so prolific is she in spreading email missives.   Where does she get this stuff?  Who is she believing?  Who is influencing her behavior?

Her friends.

Let’s face it.  As much as we love our family and our friends, a lot of people we know aren’t terribly judicious in the content the like, share and forward.   They don’t check the truthfulness of or question the biases in the information they share.  They aren’t skeptical.  They seem to inherently trust the information they find online, believing that there’s safety in numbers. They reason  if 10,000 other people liked or shared this tidbit, it must be accurate.

Sharing news and information on social networks is popular.  But as Facebook, Google+ and other networks refine their user experiences, they’re enabling us to create walled gardens around ourselves.   We can quite literally choose to hear (or read) only what we find appealing or agreeable.

Information – especially that we receive from people we trust- influences our behaviors, helping us determine what to buy, to which organizations we should donate, and for whom to vote.  Herein is the reason why the uncertain outlook for news media is so disconcerting.  Without professional journalists to ask tough questions and sniff out stories, society will suffer.  Who will look into dark corners and find out what’s going on behind the closed doors of local school boards, civic governments or corporate boards?  As a whole, as a society, we’ll be less informed.

These are just some of the reasons we’re proposing to delve into the vetting of content – either by friends or professionals – at South By Southwest Interactive next Spring.

Titled “Vetting in the Age of Social: Who do you trust?” and featuring a panel of media experts, including  Tony Uphoff, CEO of UBM TechWeb, and CNN’s Alicia Stewart,  the session proposes to delve into what makes trusted content, and implications for brands.

We think this is an important conversation communicators need to have, and there’s no better forum than SXSWi.   If you agree, please visit the SXSW Panel Picker, and give this panel the thumbs up.

Link: SXSW Panel Picker 2012

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

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