FAKE NEWS ALERT: Where Are You Getting Your News?

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Allison Woods, Staff Writer

Before the massive use of social media, many people got their news from newspapers, news channels, and even magazines. However, in this day and age, news has evolved to where anyone has a platform to speak about anything and everything. Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have become rapid replacements for larger news sources. While it is nice to have access to the world with just a press of a button, one must ask themselves how reliable these sources truly are. 

In the U.S., 79% of people reported having a social media account of some sort. This makes it very easy for anyone to type out a quick post or video. The issue with so many people having platforms to spread news is that many of them can turn out to be false. For instance, it’s super easy for someone to simply Google an article and only read the headline of a story for millions to repost on Twitter. Not doing research can prove to be harmful. Neglecting or leaving out the tiniest bit of information can easily change the perspective of the big picture. The next thing you know, the false information spreads like wildfire and everyone begins believing a narrative that isn’t true. 

On the other hand, however, many people have used social media to shine light on certain stories that go unnoticed by huge news channels such as CNN, BBC World News, and Fox News. In fact, one site that stands out the most is TikTok. With 50 million daily active users and over 2 billion downloads in total, TikTok has completely taken the world by storm. While it started out as a fun dancing app, it now has become a place where people call out injustices, social issues, and huge news stories that bigger sites won’t talk about. With such a broad audience on the app, it is very easy to get a reach on this app and report news. 

On other sites such as Instagram and Twitter, many people have taken to infographics, stories, or just simple posts to report the news. Many people have made accounts purely dedicated to covering real-world stories. With the use of social and digital marketing, these accounts have become almost as big as, or even bigger than the mainstream news apps.

Since the reliability of these posts is questionable, you should ask yourself, “Where am I supposed to get my information?” or “How can I trust what I am reading?” Well, the simple answer to these questions are: Do. Your. Own. Research. 

When it comes to voicing the world around us, it is almost impossible for news sources to stay unbiased. Everyone has their own opinions, experiences, and influences on certain topics and situations. Even subconsciously, a person may slip in just one single word or phrase that can sway the viewers one way or another. 

Another factor that comes to play is the audiences. Audiences can unknowingly perform the act of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for evidence that proves your point without looking at the contradicting factors. For example, people who align with the Republican views might go to Fox News for a certain narrative on a story since they know that the channel will hold their views and vice versa for Democrats and CNN.  Confirmation bias can cause people to be less engaging with information that challenges their views, keeping them in the dark about the real world around them. 

This is why you should do your own research. Read more than just the headline. Purposefully look for views and narratives that may challenge your own. Search for multiple different sources and form your own opinions and stances. Limiting or censoring yourself to one side or the other will ultimately hold you back in the end. And who knows, you might actually find yourself surprised by what you find.