Burriss: Hard to separate fact from fiction
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 1:58 pm
BY LARRY BURRISS
Remember back in high school English classes you learned about parody: the imitation of a particular writer's style, usually highly exaggerated, for comic effect. Television programs such as Saturday Night live, and internet sites such as the Onion, immediately come to mind.
We were almost always able to tell the difference between pure fiction and parody. And programs such as the Orson Wells broadcast of "War of the Worlds" alerted us to the danger of making something sound too much like a real news event.
We saw this danger in very real life last week when the web site 4Chan began running the names of two shooters in the Oregon community college shooting spree. The names were soon picked up by social media, and mobs of people began speculating about why they did the shooting.
As with most Internet discussions, it's hard to differentiate what simply is a rant and what is a real threat. But what makes 4chan different from most social media sites is users are not required to use any kind of identification. This anonymity has led to a myriad of rants from the extreme ends of the political and social spectrum, as well as claims of responsibility for numerous shootings and threats of violence.
And now the FBI is investigating the site to see if there are any connections to the actual shooter.