Recent government leadership has made the term “fake news” a very well-known expression. Regardless of its recent rise to fame, the concept of fake news has been a reality for some time, or perhaps even since the first people began telling stories. The rise of social media, however, has changed the nature of these stories because all of us around the world can share what we perceive to be as true without any fact-checking whatsoever. While one would hope our sources are reliable, that simply isn’t always the case.
Like reports of spiders in the bananas at Costco, the urban legends that were once relegated to friend-of-a-friend tales being told around campfires now pop up on social threads regularly. Fortunately, we do have sites like Snopes that enable those who take the time to do some fact-checking to see whether the latest report of clear parasites found in water bottles is, in fact, true (which it isn’t).
Unfortunately, there are many influencers (both individuals and organizations) who choose intentionally to influence using what they call information but that is not entirely (and sometimes not at all) accurate. There are even more social media users who perpetuate the believability of this inaccurate information because they believe it to be news instead of what it is – subjective propaganda. There’s not one belief system or political agenda for which this is true more than others. It’s true across the board (although there are those noble leaders who make it a point to avoid the practice altogether).
So, how does one avoid falling into the fake news trap? Fact check your news, people. If something seems shocking or in the category of what you would previously have said was unbelievable, then guess what? It very well likely may be just that – unbelievable because it isn’t actually true at all.
So, before you click the share or retweet button, do yourself and everyone else good. Find out the truth. Go to a resource like Snopes, or at the very least ensure that the same information you’re seeing is consistent across multiple highly credible sources, which it will be if it’s true.
Keep in mind that not all news sources are equal. Also keep in mind that just because it’s a famous news source does not mean its information is always right.
We are living in an information age, and more people get their information from social media than from any other source. Be part of the movement that stands for sharing truthful news with the world – and speak out when you see fake news being perpetuated. Be part of the movement using social media to do good.