In today’s digital world, it has never been easier for the common person to access information. The internet can be used for staying up to date on current events, as well as learning more about subjects that you may not know about.
However, we are still human. Taking things at face value is never the best idea, especially when the internet provides everyone with the means to investigate personally.
While the internet provides a great opportunity for the spread of information, the danger that comes with it is in its ability to possibly spread misinformation. It is incredibly easy to lie on the internet, as well as twisting facts and figures to suit personal arguments.
As primary season begins to near its end, it is more important than ever to look into the things you read on social media. It’s easy to read a headline and make a rash judgement of the subject material, something I myself have been guilty of.
The problem there is that often headlines online are designed as clickbait, with the intention of getting as many views on the article as possible. It is simply part of the business model, as more views means more ad revenue.
What this means is that by just reading a headline and moving on, the reader doesn’t get the whole story. In fact, I have noticed that many online news sites write headlines that are either so vague that they don’t convey the meaning of the article, or outright contradict the main points.
It is absolutely worth your time to read the whole thing before formulating an opinion, not just the headline. Not only can you better form an argument by having all the information, but it can allow for more civil discourse to occur rather than outright fighting.
On top of all this, it’s imperative to take all social media posts with a grain of salt. The easiest way for misinformation to spread is through lies of omission instead of full-on lies. If someone doesn’t have all of the facts themselves and uses a social media platform to talk about something, it can not only hurt their own credibility but also that of whatever they were talking about.
This is especially true for politics. Everyone has a candidate they support, and everyone has candidates they absolutely do not support. Everyone talks about the political field on social media, to the point where half my Twitter feed is filled with talk about the primaries.
The problem is that social media does not require citation of sources. Sure, your point looks better if you link an article where you got it from, or if you are quote tweeting something from an official account, but since it isn’t a requirement there’s no limit to what can be said.
In order to be an informed voter, everyone needs to pay close attention to where they are getting information from. Don’t trust something you see on the internet just because someone you like said it; look into it yourself.
If no source is listed, confirm whatever it is you are reading on other sites. Chances are, if you see it in multiple different places (especially reputable news outlets), then it is probably true.
Living in a digital world brings its ups and downs, but you can absolutely protect yourself from misinformation if you are willing to do the work. Don’t dismiss something as “fake news” at face value; with a small amount of research, the truth can easily be found. Sometimes it is as simple as reading beyond just a headline.