Living in a world in which Donald Trump is president of the U.S., we’re arguably all quite familiar with fake news and the implications it can present when perpetuated in a false context. We’ve been informed of the danger of spreading fake news, and further of the damage it can result in depending on how many people it reaches.
While we’re all aware of the consequences that can arise from fake news, I question how aware we are of the prevalence of fake news within social media platforms. I think it’s fair to assume that many of us believe we’re capable of spotting fake news ourselves, but statistics say otherwise.
“According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, most Americans suspect that made-up news is having an impact. About two-in-three U.S. adults (64%) say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events … some Americans say they themselves have shared fake news. Overall, 23% say they have ever shared a made-up news story, with 14% saying they shared a story they knew was fake at the time and 16% having shared a story they later realized was fake,” says an article from Pew Research Centre.
These findings are even more concerning in the realm of social media. There is an assumption that younger social media users have a stronger capability of recognizing fake news, but this simply is not the case.
“When it comes to evaluating information that flows across social channels or pops up in a Google search, young and otherwise digital-savvy students can easily be duped, finds a new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education. The report … shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from,” an article from Stanford Graduate School of Education says.
I encourage you to consider the danger of spreading fake news via social media when it comes to crimes, for example. When many of us were following the investigation of the two teenage murderers in B.C., police officials asked social media users to refrain from posting and sharing claimed sightings and information because of the confusion it created in their attempt to find the young men. Falsified information and criminal investigations don’t really mix, folks.
Fake news and social media are a deadly combination. Check your facts, be aware, and don’t share something unless you’re certain the information cited is legitimate.
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