We all have read about it – foreign entities using social media like Facebook and Twitter to plant fake stories in an attempt to influence the presidential election. It was rampant in the 2016 election and the federal government has been clear that interference efforts are only increasing as the 2020 election approaches.
However, the blame being placed on the mainstream media and social media platforms for the public’s information deficit is partially misplaced. We, as news consumers, need to take the initiative to be more skeptical of the information that we receive. It is essential for us all to become savvy media consumers, to question and to wade through the vast ocean of information that is available.
We’ve all been caught believing, sharing, and talking about fake news. It’s important as a news consumer to verify information. Verify “breaking news” by checking various sources to see if it’s being widely reported. Also be wary of advocacy journalism outlets that have an explicit agenda that will skew their reporting and “sponsored content,” which companies pay for to appear in print and online.
This Chart produced by Ad Fontes Media (an independent organization that reviews and analyzes media bias) provides a wealth of information about the news outlets we all consume.
And finally, when in doubt, ask the experts. Credible fact-checking sites like FACTCHECK.ORG and SNOPES.COM are great resources for checking the legitimacy of anything that seems questionable.
Here’s to becoming a more savvy media consumer in 2020!
How to Spot Fake News infographic by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (based on FactCheck.org’s 2016 article How to Spot Fake News)