Yes. This. I have seen so many posts lately from people who have clearly not done any research and are just buying into fear mongering. The problem with today’s day and age is we are so desperate for instant gratification that we seem to just believe any news or “facts” that are put in front of our face. I remember being a kid and hearing something from my dad that I didn’t believe and telling him to show me in the encyclopedia that George Washington had wooden teeth.
And what are we to do about fake news coming across our social media platforms? Research research research. It might sound a little hypocritical to be like “don’t believe everything you read on the internet but use the internet to figure out what’s true.” But really it’s not. Let’s say you see a link stating, I don’t know, Big Bird died. Google it. Then cross-reference with reputable news sites. I know (especially since it’s still in the wake up election season) people have their doubts about our key news sources. Fox news, CNN news, they all have their agenda’s right? (Insert something about the Illuminati here) but let’s step back down off the conspiracy theories and realize that most things aren’t worth the time and effort a cover up requires. And I’m pretty sure if Fox and CNN and BBC all say that Big Bird is alive and well you can trust it.
There has been some concern over fake news on Facebook. Mark Zuckerburg himself has addressed the issue stating that they do in fact take it seriously. I mean, it’s has to be hard tracking down every single article to its source, no many how many people are working for the company. Being a fact checker is hard. (even though my love of research thinks it could be an interesting job) You can read his Facebook post here.
Even President Obama has addressed the issue of fake news. I just watched a segment on Ellen where he was talking about how people will report something along the lines of “we are overspending, when in fact we are not.” (Yes I’m paraphrasing) He has called misinformation, “A threat to democratic institutions“. Look how quickly people were attacking each other during this election season over random reports found on social media. Segments that were very clearly broken up to sound one way were used as ammo to slam the other candidate, which seems to be the norm unfortunately.
And you know where else this kind of behavior can be found? On reality television. Producers will have footage specifically edited to make comments sound saucier or sassier to get the kind of rise from other people on the show and more importantly (to them) the viewers. There’s a whole article about it on Reader’s Digest. Apparently, it’s so common they’ve even given it it’s own name, frankenbiting. I assume because it’s like piecing together various bits to create their own reality tv monster like Dr. Frankenstein did for his. Seems more like what happened in “Young Frankenstein”
I think the saddest commentary is the fact that so many people ARE in fact still buying into almost everything they read on the internet. Not to touch on a hot topic but the flu shot is a clear example. I still see articles left and right about how the flu shot is basically injecting you with a live virus so you are going to get sick if you get your flu shot so it’s better not to. Or that their isn’t any real evidence that it’s beneficial to children. This list could go on and on. And I’m not saying that you are wrong for not wanting to get one, and I’m not saying you are wrong for wanting the flu shot. All I’m saying (again) is don’t make your decision based off someone’s (probably biased) Facebook post.
One site I love turning to in times of questionable media content is Snopes.com. From what I can see is seems that Snopes does its due diligance to find truthful information and will admit when it flat out doesn’t know if a lead is true or false. Just for fun, I searched for information on the flu shot on Snopes to see what I could find. (Especially since vaccinations are such a hot button topic) What I found was what seems to be a complete list of arguements against flu shots and a complete list of facts that either support or debunk the arguements. The article (found here) is worded very carefully and stays just about as non-bias as possible. Which is obviously something we need more of.
Fear mongering, misinformation, and bias reports are a plague on our culture. And yes, I do blame social media largely for this. It is so easy to hop onto Facebook, (or a blog like this) and spew whatever nonsense you want because you can hide behind your computer. Look at internet trolls that will post hateful or scary things under pseudonyms knowing that there is very little that can be done about it. People have their own agendas and knowing tha, it is hard to know what you can and cannot trust. I have found a site that tries to list fake news sites, along with satire and clickbait. Fakenewswatch.com is actually in my bookmarks so I can reference it when needed.
I cannot stress how important it is to seek truth in all you do. Don’t let others make up your mind for you. Our ability to decide for ourselves what we feel is a precious gift. (And I suppose someone will argue that I’m trying to make you feel a certain way by posting this) I just think it’s so important that we continuously use our minds and broaden our horizons.
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”- John F Kennedy