As much as the Internet has given us—Wikipedia, social media, the sad-Keanu meme—it’s also taken from us. Mainly, the chance to do research on the content we’re sending out. Granted, this isn’t the Internet’s fault. It’s ours. Most of us don’t think of passing along someone else’s information as a nonverbal stamp of our approval…but, essentially, that’s what it is. And ultimately, we bear the responsibility of that, whether the content originated with us or not.

Before the Internet, we secured legitimate sources. Made sure our consensus was as accurate as it could be. And after the Internet? We get viral videos like KONY2012. Not to say that social issues aren’t important—they most certainly are. But, as CNN points out, this might be misplaced buzz. The biggest part of this controversy stems from the organization that produced the video; critics say that the group “directs more money to media production and salaries than to direct services” (via Ad Age).

While this isn’t the first time a link has made its way around the Internet disguised as truth, I feel confident in stating it will not be the last. This, in fact, happens quite frequently. Think of all the “dead” celebrities who have “reappeared” in photographs the next day. The problem isn’t necessarily the people who start these things, it’s really the ones who fuel the fire. You, me, and the friends we’re connected to.

How many times have you seen a link on your Facebook wall, begging you to click on it to find out who unfriended you? Or when you’ll die, and how? Think before you click. Chances are, clicking on that link will result in spam being sent to your connections. And honestly, it doesn’t prove that you’re technologically savvy…

Same thing with Twitter. Some unknown handle with an egg for a profile picture decides you need to click on a link. Sometimes no text accompanies it; other times, a cryptic message. Either way, think before you click. If you just check out the handle’s profile, you’ll probably see hundreds of tweets with the identical link. There’s your red flag.

Before you send anything via your social profiles, make sure what you’re sending is as legitimate as you can make it. That means reading the article or watching the video before posting. That means checking the sources to make sure they exist. Your followers expect that what you’re essentially endorsing isn’t a scam. They rely on you, especially if you’re a business. Sometimes, one mistake is all it takes to lose trust.

Take time to protect your reputation – no one else is going to do it for you. And this is the Internet – you can’t hide it.

Only you can prevent bad information from being spread.