In this swiftly evolving age of modern technology, it seems that humans have an unlimited amount of knowledge at our fingertips. Or more accurately, at the tips of our fingers that are tapping our smartphones. We read something on our phones, on random and unedited articles, and we believe it. We share it with those around us as if it is a hard and irrefutable fact. So the question stands: Are we not only the victims of Fake News, but also the perpetrators?
To me, the answer is a simple and straightforward, yes.
Fake News is thrust upon us in many different ways. We are used to Click Bait titles and raunchy magazine headlines, yet we are often aware that these are not the most reliable of sources. However, we enable them. As a society we could ignore the online magazines and misleading Facebooks headlines and their greedy tricks, as without an audience they would lose all value. As an online community we could look to the celebrities promoting fake lifestyles, but without followers they couldn’t make thousands from promotional posts. As a nation, we could take the time to consider the “facts” in-front on us and do a little additional research before we take everything written in front of us as Gospel.
Unfortunately, we do not do this. We are lazy. We take the words in front of us at face-value and we accept them as fact. However, Fake News can even include sources we consider trust-worthy. Stuff, News Hub, even Newspapers and Television News. We consider them reliable beyond belief. But realistically, their reporting’s’ are no more than a reporter or journalist’s perception of events. To make matters worse, people in positions of power and authority contribute to this problem more than they solve it. Often political personalities will put a spin on a current event for their own interests. It’s a bit of an extreme example but look at Donald Trump! He consistently lies and exaggerates for his own benefit, without a care in the world for reporting the truth to his supporters, his enemies or his Nation.
So, this leaves us to fall back on two things. The first, is really something that we should have been utilizing in this situation a long time ago. Instincts. Good, old-fashioned human instinct. If you stumble across an article on a “devastating” feud between Kate Middleton and Beyoncé: DON’T BELIEVE IT.
Find out something that is really going on in the world today. The second, is the magic of cross-referencing. (Trust me, it’s not as boring as it sounds!) Read a book, a factual one, that has gone through countless editors. Cross-reference it with a book from the opposite view.
Watch the news, critically. Read the news, carefully. Don’t limit your viewpoints to one opinion, listen to several and agree with the one that makes the most sense to you and is supported by the most evidence. You might be wrong, and you might be right – but at least you decided for yourself.
Critical Thinking Challenges:
Do you believe the fake news we read on our smartphones, see on our TV and in the newspaper is an issue?
How can you tell whether the news you are reading is real or fake?
What are some ways you can think of to help people avoid believing Fake News?
Ask your parents how they found out news when they were younger? Make sure to ask how they confirmed news they heard, when they were unable to search it up.
Read todays newspaper or watch today’s news from a source that is considered reliable. Compare it with the daily news on a website that is considered unreliable. Compare the differences and write them down.
Look at Newspapers from the past. Have the headlines in them since been re-evaluated and are now considered un-true? Or do they still stand today?