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Is this Fake News?

Hector Rizo, Staff Writer

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In the era of smartphones and tablets that we live in today, information is readily available at all times. Our smartphones serve as a beacon to what is going on in the world around us. Thanks to the internet our vast world has become relatively claustrophobic. But, that has been the status quo for some years now. What has changed is how we consume our information. Unlike the early 2000s, more people get their news from social media than from other sources like the newspaper.

According to a survey by the Pew Research center conducted in 2012, 62 percent of US adults get news from social media and about 20 percent do so often. It is safe to assume that that number is increasing, as technology is becoming more easily accessible with time. This change in the delivery of information is creating a dilemma for the credibility of the information we consume. Unlike reputable news organization’s, there is little to no standard for the quality of content that is posted on social media. Consequently, information can be frivolous at times.
The spread of misinformation is a detriment to culture, obviously. The information that we consume creates the fundamental basis for our views about the world. Therefore, faulty news causes a faulty culture based on fundamentally unsound truths. So, how do we manage misinformation? Whose responsibility is it to filter fake news? Or should it be someone’s responsibility at all?

Earlier this year, in November, Facebook and Google assumed responsibility for filtering fake news. According to sources at the New York Times, “ those companies responded by making it clear that they would not tolerate such misinformation by taking pointed aim at fake news sites’ revenue sources.” Both companies aimed their focus on preventing posts with fraudulent information by attacking sources of revenue. Nevertheless, attacking ad sources doesn’t remove the problem entirely. In fact, “fake news” is something that can be spread through word of mouth — or, in this case, word of the keyboard (I had to try). Based on the knowledge I have acquired from being a person on the internet, the most followed accounts on social media platforms are held by a single person, as opposed to an organization. So, what is stopping these social media elite from spreading misinformation themselves?  

Not only is attacking ad sources a surface level solution, but the censorship of social media removes the entire premise of social media. When people log onto social media services they expect to be able to express themselves. Social media is a place for people to communicate ideas, and that means hearing opinions that you might not agree with. Attacking ads is a form of censoring that can lead to a lack of diversity in the type of content that we consume. Regardless, of whether or not that information is true. News from all types of sources is subject to bias and fraudulent information.  It is impossible to filter all the flaws that exist in the media we consume.

The best that we can do is observe our world with an open mind and do so skeptically. The internet has allowed seeing more of the world. It has opened up our horizons to new ideas and opinions. We shouldn’t limit that.

 

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Is this Fake News?