In due haste, the blogosphere dedicated to discussing news and information took to rehashing a bogus story which turned out to be a vicious hoax devoid of any and all fact.
From twitter to facebook to reddit and tumblr, the limelight was focused upon the apparent change of heart in Swedish stoner-politics, finally allowing the sweet green to exist on the right side of the law.
This stems from a supposed “article” from the 420 newspaper in Stockholm, claiming that cannabis had been legalized by the parliament, going so far as to quote a spokesman for the Health Minister.
Even an elementary attempt at research yields that the article is nothing but a cut-paste job on an anonymous note site, JustPasteIt.it. A simple three-second google search exposes this entire story as one with no grounding in actual journalism. If anything, it’s a clever trick on the masses.
The faux article even contains the end-all quotation, less-than-subtly displaying a middle finger to the big, bad U.S.A.:
“We don’t want to make the same mistakes which the USA has done, we do not want to be prohibitionists because the war on drugs has been lost long ago. It is better to prevent marginalization of young people than jail them for soft drugs usage which are comparatively harmless. If we allow the sale of alcohol, there is no reason to ban the soft drugs no longer.”
Thankfully, the internet correction machine promptly took to debunking the bogus story, though it will inevitably make its way across the newbie web in due time (meaning that the less-than-savvy internet users will be freely posting this article without any shred of doubt as to its validity).
For enthusiasts of both media and social networking, this example of bogus information gone awry illustrates quite well how false stories can spread. This is precisely why newspaper editors and cranky J-school professors bemoan the rise of citizen journalism and the disappearance of the gatekeeper in traditional journalism.
However, while the article was quick to spread throughout the web, the information-antidote arrived soon after, exposing the hoax and downplaying any seriousness which could have been afforded to the subject.
In essence, the absence of preliminary fact-checkers on the internet may worry the non-critical among us, but the power of the interwebz will always win out in the end. Mass media will rise to correct the errors made by mass media.
With all that said, I cannot help but be disappointed.
My luggage was halfway to the door.