Veronica Roberts

We all know of former NBA basketball star Earvin Magic Johnson’s very public HIV status so it was alarming to see a picture of him with the caption of “donating blood,” making the rounds on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

But be careful of what you see on the Internet if you’re not an independent thinker. Many tend to believe what trends online, not knowing that being regurgitated and reposted everywhere doesn’t necessarily make a headline or photo true.

In this age of lightning speed, mass-produced news, misinformation can take on a powerfully persuasive life of its own, swaying the most discerning reader. Even mainstream media falls prey to this fast-food type diet of information.

The picture above does show the 53-year-old NBA star turned entrepreneur giving blood but all is not as it seem. He was not giving blood for charity as tweeters are misinforming. The photo is reportedly from the PBS documentary “I Am Not Cured” on Frontline and that is Johnson’s doctor. Magic himself has said that he is still HIV positive.

Johnson abruptly resigned from playing with the Lakers in 1991 after making the shocking announcement that he was HIV positive. He has since fathered a child and because of an effective medical regiment of drugs and exercise, looks as healthy today as he did decades ago.

This has fueled many conspiracy theories that his HIV announcement was fake and that he didn’t really have the deadly disease. Another theory spinning out there is he has been cured because his riches were able to buy a special elixir not available to ordinary folks.

But regardless of what you’ve heard, be careful what you believe, repost and retweet in cyber land. That status update, tweet or blogger headline may not always be true!