In a short-yet-powerful narration of the Prophet, He teaches us that “ليس الخبر كالمعاينه - witnessing something with your own two eyes will never be like receiving news about that thing.*”
My general advice to my own soul, and then a suggestion to all of us - if we didn’t hear it directly from the source, or see it happen, be very cautious about (1) believing it in your own heart (2) spreading it to other people. Many relationships - family and friends - have been severely damaged, and even completely broken, because of some piece of news that did not contain the entire context or the truth, or a rumor that was told, believed, and spread against someone.
How can we help?
Well, first would be to not absolutely believe anything unless you’ve received all of the evidences, especially from primary sources. Even then, don’t fully come to a conclusion that cannot be negotiated later, for more details may become apparent at a later time. Be open to change, and generally incline towards the goodness of humanity.
Second, never ever perpetuate news about somebody, especially if there is no need or benefit. There are times when there is a genuine concern that is being discussed, but these times are the exception, not the rule. Venting is not necessarily a bad thing, but it must be with a sincere intention to repair the relationship and move forward for the better.
Finally, remind others who are talking about others that it’s best to leave a situation alone and let it sort itself out, or to only become involved when necessary. My friends Danish Shaikh and Obaidullah Ahmad are especially good at this, masha Allah - this is something I’ve benefitted from tremendously in my relationship with them over the years. Some other friends I have are also good at it, lol, but these two brothers came to mind first.
I ask Allah to grant us the ability to act on this beautiful teaching of the Prophet Muhammad [saw]. Ameen!