Editorial: Bogus Olive Garden signs in Dalton a reminder not to believe everything you see online

From time to time, there's a quote that pops up on social media feeds attributed to Abraham Lincoln, our venerable 16th president of the United States.

Although the words in the quote vary, the "message" from Lincoln is this: "Don't believe everything you read on the internet." While the source is (obviously) bogus, the message is one we should remember every day: Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Earlier this month, small yard signs popped up at several spots in town trumpeting the arrival of a much-anticipated Olive Garden restaurant in Dalton. Signs were placed near a shuttered restaurant by the Dalton Mall and at an empty lot next to the I-75 Dalton exit. They both seemed like logical locations for the Italian eatery.

Plus, a developer had been trying for months to bring the restaurant to the former O'Charley's restaurant location on West Walnut Avenue. Facebook posts of the signs quickly filled social media news feeds. Daltonians were going wild over the news that Olive Garden was coming to Dalton.

Except it isn't.

Turns out the signs were a hoax — which some have speculated was a well-played high school senior prank — and a company representative confirmed the fake news.

"We do not have any plans at this time," Meagan Bernstein, a spokeswoman for Olive Garden, told the Daily Citizen-News.

This is the second Olive Garden hoax in less than a year. In late June 2019, a job posting looking for servers for a Dalton Olive Garden that appeared to be from the employment website indeed.com circulated on social media. That posting was also untrue, but many went into a frenzy over The Carpet Capital of the World getting an Olive Garden.

We understand people's excitement about a new business possibly coming to town. It's easy to get caught up in that zeal and hit the share button, text a friend or tell your children the breaking news. But we all must be extra cautious and diligent when coming across unsourced information.

That is especially crucial in our rapidly-changing information age when bad actors actively spread false information through websites, social media channels and emails in hopes of earning your trust — and your allegiance.

Disinformation is disguised to trick you. Don't take articles you read or videos you watch at face value. Take time to vet the information. Make sure it comes from a reliable source. If it seems sketchy, apply extra discernment.

Next time you come across an article floating a conspiracy theory or see a Facebook post promoting a new business coming to town, stop, slow down and take Honest Abe's "advice": Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

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