Did you know 48% of people get their news off Facebook?
It is a breeding ground of fake news and without a second thought, people are taking these articles on Facebook seriously.
If you have been looking at Facebook lately, you may have seen that Florida man dies in lab explosion after lighting farts on fire (thevalleyreport.com) and Woman finds deep fried rat in her K.F.C. meal (empirehearald.com).
Just to be clear, none of these events really happened, but that didn’t stop news of them from spreading like a virus. You would think that people should have a sense of media literacy, but many people do not.
Stanford University did a recent study and found a whopping 80 percent of teenagers they tested, couldn’t distinguish between an advertisement and a real news story online. Now that’s terrifying.
So terrifying that it makes me wonder, is common sense now endangered? Has gullibility taken over the world? Is that why we live in an era with Smartphones? Are Google and Facebook filtering and solving the crisis on numerous misinformation on the Internet and should they be held accountable?
I love school.
At school, I learn many things. The parts of a cell and stages of cell division in meiosis. How to solve quadratic equations and calculate acceleration of a moving vehicle. How to write a speech and formulate an essay. Finding Math’s X (doesn’t Maths ever get tired of looking for her? I sure do, “Can someone find X”… dude really needs to move on). But seriously, in the midst of the digital revolution where on average, people are spending more than 500 minutes of their day consuming mass amounts of information, we sometimes are not taught in school this one simple, yet powerful message to the App Generation today: “You shouldn’t believe everything you see or read on the Internet, just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.”
For some people, that’s a no brainer. For others (like me), it’s a rather new concept that is still being dissected. Essentially, a requirement needs to be established for all schools to teach students internet scepticism and how to differentiate fake news from actual journalism. If unable to understand when information is illegitimate, what is credible and what is not, the public will fall for just about anything said, and manipulation will brainwash and control the population (that’s me again I’m talking about). Many believed every word they read on the internet, like celebrities selling their souls to be successful and secretly joining an occult called the Illuminati, dated back during the Revolutionary War of America in 1700.
Gullibility is a huge problem when you’re a teen, and if our teachers don’t teach us questioning skills, internet trolls and online hate groups will just increase in their power and influence people. The role the internet has in our lives will only keep growing, and schools need to change with our rapidly changing technology and media. It’s about time to add a new course to our curriculum.
With fake news being believed on such a large scale in the world, opinions are at risk of becoming facts. Is this why China controls the internet?
Perhaps another story for another day?
Valid news sources are becoming delegitimised. In order to stop the downward spiral, it’s important that we require all schools to teach students to be able to decipher what is real versus what is fake. We students need to learn how to identify hoax articles from the real news of journalism, it must be a skill required to be taught, so we do not look stupid.
Part of stopping the spread of lies and misinformation also falls on the readers who share these articles to friends and family or post them on social media.
Of course lending these stories their own credibility.
Asking simple and logical questions can destroy any rumour, and it is exactly what needs to be done when engaging with updates to your newsfeed on Facebook. Rumours and lies are not a 21st century invention, and neither is fake news, so make yourself aware by recognising a fake story and preventing the spread of fake news:
1. Check what news outlet published it.
2. Check the publish date and time.
3. Who is the Author?
4. Look at what links and sources are used.
5. Look out for questionable quotes and photos.
6. Search if other news outlets are reporting it.
7. Think before you share.