News Gets Twerked

I suspect by now, most readers have seen the Jimmy Kimmel prank video.  It features a young woman filming herself ” twerking” in her apartment. And it culminates in the woman setting herself on fire. And it’s completely fake. 

It may not be a surprise that the YouTube video went viral. But it may be a little surprising that several news programs ran it like a real news piece. Think about that for just a minute. The news outlets that ran it assumed that the video was legit. Which begs the question “why”? Why was there any reason to believe the video was genuine? The news outlets never attempted to contact the woman, nor whoever uploaded the video. They assumed the video was real just because it looked that way.

The news people may want to familiarize themselves with a legal concept called “authentication.” It’s a rule of evidence which requires a party who introduces evidence to establish that the evidence is what it purports to be.  If I want to introduce a photo of damage to my car, I have to testify that I am familiar with my car’s appearance and the photo is an accurate depiction. 

With the twerking video, no one “authenticated” it. It might have been a good idea for an editor to play judge and not permit the station to broadcast the video.  Sure would have avoided a lot of authentic embarrassment. 

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