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Check Your Facts Before You Shell Out Info

Social media is an amplifier. The little mix-ups and mistakes we all make in life are just part of being human, and usually we do them quietly. But when we fark up online, people are listening. Our mistakes can get a whole lot louder, which is why checking our facts before we share information online is really important. Before you fuss with your spelling and your grammar and before you click Update, Post, or Send, please make sure what you are sharing is valid. Or at the very least include in the comment that you aren’t sure. So when you see on Twitter that Jon Bon Jovi is dead, maybe you will pause and think for a minute before you share.

Currently, people are sharing two things about Shell Oil that are hoaxes/parodies. One is the website that is made to look like a crowd-sourced ad-campaign gone wrong for shell:

A hilarious parody, but a parody nonetheless. I was sent this site by no less than 25 people yesterday, and I love them for considering me to be the brand fark-up Sherpa, but every time we share something that isn’t true, it can hurt our credibility. (Shell has decided not to sue them, for now.)

Think about it. When you find out you’ve been conned, you feel stupid and you raise an eyebrow towards the person that originally told you. It hurts trust a little bit. It’s not as bad as forwarding the Bill Gates sends you $1 email, but you still want to smack the person with a Snopes tshirt.

Then came along the Twitter account @ShellIsPrepared and most people are taking the bait:

Parody accounts are actually protected on Twitter, if it’s an obvious parody. To some this is, but as you can see above, to a lot it isn’t. It’s not the fault of the people reacting, but the fault of brands behaving so poorly that it’s actually believable that one would do this.

So, my fellow social media speakers, take out the screenshots of this from your talks about social media going wrong, unless it’s to show how spreading fake events is bad for the people who do the spreading πŸ™‚

Nobody is perfect, but instead of trying to be first to spread something around, try to be the first to confirm it.

+++++The entire Bon Jovi fiasco is a chapter in my new book “The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome” including references to at least 5 classic Bon Jovi songs and the book itself is a flip book. Let’s see Gladwell do that!



  • I’m just trying to picture you as a Fark-up Sharpa. Looking like an Eskimo with a big stick and a bunch of failed marketing campaigns in a weird “special olympics of fail” coral.

  • Thanks for the heads up earlier, Scott. It won’t be surprising to see Greenpeace get sued by Shell after all this. No where was the site or Twitter account labeled as a parody.

  • Thank you for this! I’m constantly sent fake stories on social media from friends wanting me to comment. It’s not hard to do quick fact-checking online. With sites like snopes and official websites, it’s a 60 second process. Credibility is amazingly important. I’m sharing this post everywhere! πŸ™‚

  • I read on the interwebs somewhere that Shell and BP were actually married in a civil ceremony in Kentucky. IS THIS TRUE???

  • Haha, great message! A couple things stick out for me. First, I totally fell for the Bon Jovi thing but hadn’t discovered Twitter yet so I saved myself the embarrassment of sharing, lol. Second, I love the one guy that responded “Rawr, I’m a Polar Bear”, awesome! Cheers!

  • I hope my mom reads this.

  • Vusal

    nice post, thanks

  • Great post! I had this very problem last week when I shared a link to a job post which had closed weeks before! Fortunately one of my followers bothered to read the comments in which the company posted a deadline it had forgotten to put into the body of the advert. The fiasco ended in only about five minutes but my FB post had already reached over 400 people! Thanks for the reminder Scott!

  • Tom Bianco

    My favorites are the Facebook political ones.

  • Wait, Bon Jovi is dead?

  • T

    I agree …be the first to confirm…truth

  • Fark-Up Sherpa, nice. I’d like to see that on a business card. πŸ™‚

    Bon Jovi is a social media king. I wrote about how they use social media in their live shows a couple years ago:

  • Lady Estrogen

    The parody ads are absolutely hilarious though…

  • hate to tell you buddy, but Bon Jovi is dead. I heard that in a coffee shop from a guy who was there when it happened….

  • In this case the sad part is that the parody is closer to the truth than the PR bs Shell is trying to sell.

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  • You had me at Jon Bon Jovi πŸ˜‰

  • karen mccoy

    Yes, it’s e-gossip….just as dangerous as the traditional form! Thanks Scott!

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  • Lezley

    …shhhhh – Gladwell can do no wrong.

    He gives me a brain boner.

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  • Got completely sidetracked by the image…too funny. But yes, great advice about Twitter and checking. I once got carried away reading about a possible shooting on Oxford Street (UK) only to find out it was a film set πŸ™‚ Thankfully I didn’t share it.

  • Robin

    Maybe we should update the old adage – ‘If you have got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything!’ – to a more online friendly version – ‘If you have got nothing nice to share, don’t share anything!’…. πŸ™‚

  • Greg

    I wonder how many of the idiots who share this are, or have been customers of Shell? Do they all own electric cars, or take their kids to school on a bicycle? Doubt it. Most people who ride their bike vs. drive a car simply can’t afford a car.

  • Tomasz Rakowski

    Nice plug scott, nice plug. You really said nothing insightful, just plugged your book into the whole mess.

  • crisgoode

    Great post! Second post I read today about the same issue…

  • Elysia

    You win again πŸ™‚

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  • We are as much what we do as we are what we share.

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  • Dear Scott,

    THANK YOU!!!
    When I am in a conversation with someone and they say something INCITING (this especially happens in political conversations) I say, “Wait. Where did you get that information? How do you KNOW that?”
    I lead a coaching program that was written by someone else. It is very powerful and I am grounded in it and I understand it.
    However, one of the things in this program is a section about taking care of yourself. The program details vitamins, ways to eat, ways our metabolism works, ways that disease and healing work. BUT I know NOTHING about those things. I’m NOT an expert at that. So, I took it out!

    I want everything I say to be BACKED UP! It is critical to me that if I say something YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!
    Thank you for asking people to be responsible for what they say!
    Love the REALITY UP!
    The Irreverent Sales Girl

  • This “Twitter” world we live in is very dangerous. Tons of misinformation and people rushing to judgment based on 140 characters and a lack of accountability for those cowardly nut jobs posting often slanderous comments.

  • Ofili

    “instead of trying to be first to spread something around, try to be the first to confirm it.” #THEend

  • Aren’t most retweets just a hope and a prayer that more people will follow them on Twitter? Since we’re ranting…famous quotes are all we can come up with to share?

  • Take your own advice. I hear you spouting off missinformation all the time.

  • Marketing techniques

    Great Informatin ! It wil be a wonderful survey to continue it ! Thank you for your sharing!

  • Great article, this just proves it you must double check your information before you post it.

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