It’s everywhere. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes, it takes more attention to notice that something is not right.
In a previous life I was a social studies teacher. I taught students how to be critical of what they read. How to pick out inconsistencies or biases. That was a long time ago. Prior to Twitter, prior to fake news. Heck, it was back in the days when Wikipedia was just starting and it was easy to say “use any site except Wikipedia”. This worked, for the most part. But students got it. They understood the issue of why Wikipedia was “untrustworthy”.
Instant new was just starting to happen and newspapers were still integral. I used to get 40 newspapers delivered to my school for current events discussions. We would use them to stay apprised of what was going on in the world. There was no issues about fake news, perhaps just misrepresentation.
Now, students get their news (if they ever really read the news) through social media. Now that article talks about Millennials, But I am not sure that current high school students fall into that label. Surely by now they have a new label. Here in social media, especially with how easy it is to re-tweet information, there is a constant spread of fake news. The death of Tom Petty, is probably the most current example.
I know that sometimes I get caught by fake new. Not that I believe it, but that I get drawn into reading the article based off a shock value headline. More often than not I would say that comments or Tweets about Trump catch me the most off guard. Some of the things he says are so out there that I have yet to be able to be 100% certain what is real and what is fake. The most recent that I saw was of an article that showed an image of a Donald Trump tweet where he poked fun at Justin Trudeau for saying Happy Thanksgiving 6 weeks early. I didn’t automatically stand out as fake, because, once again, he says some random things. But I was critical. I checked Trumps Twitter feed to look for it. It wasn’t there. So I knew it was fake. Really funny, but fake. It also turns out that it is really easy to make an image that looks like a fake tweet. Especially ones for making FakeTrumpTweets. There are lots of sites. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I guess I wonder, how do people have so much time on their hands?
I have a four year old, and I have often wondered how I am going to teach him about picking out fake news. And I guess it is just being critical. That’s it’s about making sure that you do not completely accept what you see or hear, and to not get complacent. That you trust your instincts and that you take the time to investigate information. And who knows what method of receiving the new will exist when he is ready. My family used to watch the new every night. Now, we don’t even have cable. I guess it will be from whatever app exists on the Apple TV when he is ready for it.
Fake news doesn’t mean we need to panic, and distrust everything. It does however mean that we need to slow down and read. Not just read the title of the article, but read the article, and compare it to information that we already know.