Live Blogging SXSW: RIP Jeff Goldblum, Truth Vs. Web BS

Mediagazer’s Megan McCarthy is presenting a short talk called RIP Jeff Goldblum: Truth vs. Web BS . With computer in hand, here’s a live blogging of it, with some tips for those trying to ferret out truth from fiction.

On June 25 last year, Farrah Fawcett died. Then stories on Twitter and elsewhere about Michael Jackson dying. Huge traffic to news sites before anything confirmed. Big change from in the past when you’d hear things from news sources only after confirmed.

So to set the day off, two big celebrities dies. Huge interest. Many didn’t believe Jackson had, then TMZ reported, then more began to believe something that seemed to be unbelievable was true. Then news started coming out that Jeff Goldblum had died.

All was based off a report from small site called Global Associated News. People linked to that as the source that the new rumor was true. But this was a hoax web site that you could fill in with any name and fake a death in an accident. (see our story from the time, Jeff Goldblum Is NOT Dead, Despite What Google Says).

So how do you suss out what’s real or not in a world that’s more and more confusing. Megan’s tips based on her experience as an online editor and journalist.

Know Your Source
Is the name of the site the name as the domain? TMZ matched Global Associated News had a domain name of

Try a search on the source. If you’d searched for “global associated news” on Google, seeing a story like “Global Associated News Shatters Masturbation World Record” as third listing might make you do a second thought about this as a solid news source.

See a tweet with news? Shows example of Mark Hendrickson tweeting that MySpace CEO was joining Plancast. But some didn’t click on the story link, which was a RickRoll. And then some sites like The Next Web wrote a story just off that tweet, not checking further.

Know The Big Picture

If you know more about the players, you might understand more about what’s going on. Is someone formerly with a company? Do they have an agenda?


How do you deal with people who constantly barrage you with what seems to be conspiracy theories? Ask them for proof, their sources, how they know it.

How about stories that are nuanced. Not yes or no but shades of truth or fiction? There’s always going to be people who want to spin things in some way. But if you know the big picture, then you have a better sense of both sides. Knowing more about what’s going on, being more media literate takes some of the edge off.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Search Engines: News Search Engines


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Zee

    No doubt about it. I screwed up royally with the Plancast / Myspace story.

    To clarify however, it wasn’t me not checking the link…being based in the UK, I couldn’t access that particular youtube video which i thought might be a statement of some sort. Like an idiot, I took Hendrickson’s tweet as genuine and updated our original post.

    When I discovered what was actually on that video, I amended and tweeted the correction. Irrespective, it’s easily one of my worst moments in blogging, and one i don’t particularly want to remember. :P

  • kevinpike

    This is frustrating as it has only become a user issue because of real-time search.

    You asked “How do you suss out what’s real or not in a world that’s more and more confusing?” – The answer, if your a search engine, is by not focusing so hard on real-time search.

    Just my opinion, but I think being right 100% of the time is better than having real-time results that are 50/50. Good journalism is fading today because being the first to break a story is championed over accuracy – see Fox News.

    I made a similar post back in September about this.

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