Opinion: ‘Fake news’ grips social media

By Darrisha Daniel
canstockphoto28767356

IMAGE COURTESY OF CANSTOCKPHOTO

In a world where social media dominates our news intake, these sources may only add fuel to fire our internal bias.

This type of operation has led many of us into clickbait spirals and placing belief in common misconceptions. News generated for social media users’ consumption is often centered around popular stories not always the most important stories.

According to the Pew Research Center, young Americans get over 60 percent of overall news from social media and about 40 percent of that group exclusively get their news from Facebook, a site that profits off engagement of their users, not the validity of their content.

Another study from Pew Research states that many Americans cannot accurately distinguish facts from opinions on these platforms. Only one third of the test group could spot the facts and only a small amount more could spot opinions.

Adding to this fact, all forms of social media are tailored to likes and follows of the user. With this in mind, many fake news producers operate off this notion and the fact that an unlimited amount of sources can make finding the truth overwhelming.

Remarkably, Pew Research finds that nearly 40 percent of Americans who get their news from social media find the information to be untrustworthy.

Why is it still the most common media outlet among the US?

Ease and convenience. Many of us use the platforms to stay socially connected with friends and family, so the news featured there gives us the illusion of connection to the world.

It’s similar to being in class and taking pages of notes we can barely understand. With such complexity in the algorithms and sources, it can seem nearly impossible to become an informed citizen.

The best way to avoid falling prey to fake news is to fact check everything. News outlets that take time to develop stories tend to be more efficient in doing that for users than clickbait news found on Facebook, Instagram or snapchat. Print news or even televised news can give a better overall view on controversial topics yet only about 20 percent of us will resort to these avenues.

Luckily, there are many online sources to get unbiased reports meant to inform, not perpetuate one popular mindset. There’s always an agenda with social media and that is to influence the masses in one way or another. Get the news from both sides in the most unbiased arenas to make your own informed opinions about the world and what’s going on in it.