Uneducated. Ill-informed. Wrong. In today’s society, these words can describe a large portion of our population when it comes to news and current events. We are often plagued by disillusioned posts and tweets from media celebrities that cause people to draw their own biases from of the first headline they see. Fake news, or “false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news,” as defined by Webopedia, has led to a generation of tension, incorrect statements and world problems.
When most people hear fake news, they think of President Donald Trump calling out big media outlets, such as the New York Times and FOX, accusing them of providing false information to society. As Kellyanne Conway would say, sometimes these outlets provide “alternate facts,” and then goes on to try and prove how these sources are skewed. This is why we need to educate younger generations coming into an age of uncertainty. If kids had one year to learn what news was, an that year was 2017, future generations would be woefully uninformed.
Social media, the biggest boom in the past five years, is now how most teens and young adults get their information of what’s going on that’s important to them. Depending on what political party those teens may associate with, they might be receiving news that is incorrect or skewed to they way they want it to be. For example, if you are a liberal on Facebook, you might have seen the headline “Trump fails miserably while calling out ‘Mr. Tough Guy’ Joe Biden to a fight” when Biden was campaigning for Hillary. Trump had to respond to Joe saying he wanted to punch Trump. In other news, if you are a Republican, you might’ve seen “Biden shot off his mouth wanting to fight Trump; He never expected this response – EPIC!” on Facebook.
Kids have to be able to spot fake news, as we are taught in our journalism class. Major world decisions are told to us by the media, and if those statements are fake, we don’t know the truth behind the decisions we vote for. It’s like Steve Bannon writing himself a permanent position in the Security Council and Trump signing it without knowing.
So how do we combat fake news as a whole? It includes reading the entire story, not just the headline. Also, teaching kids to check sources and see how reliable and credible they are and to question the source’s purpose and why it has been posted or written. But the social media that influences youth must also help in taking the fight to their technology, and informing their followers what is true and not true.
Companies like Twitter and Google need to be able to fact check or have other organizations fact check the articles and stories people post on social media. Although the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, when tweets or stories are just plain wrong, they should be dispelled as news and clearly inform all readers of said information.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.com, said in December of 2016 that his company will “focus on fighting spam, not flagging opinions.” In addition to combatting the outburst of fake news, Facebook is also partnering with Snopes and PolitiFacts, respected fact checkers in politics, to crack down on fake news. The people of United States need to recognize that some articles belong as an opinion, while others are purely hoaxes made to ill-inform uneducated readers. Society should focus on getting social media and fake news readers to check their sources and question articles to determine whether or not the story is in fact news.
It is a call to action for both social media and teens alike. Fake news runs rampant in social media, and the only thing that can stop it is an educated generation, one of suspicion and inquiry.