Lately I’ve been hearing the under-the-breath grumblings from Americans who are curious to know where they can read legitimate news stories. Oh what, your Facebook news feed isn’t cutting it anymore? Seriously, according to my students this quarter social media is where they get most of their daily news. Apparently it’s true for most Americans. During the 2016 presidential election many voters chose their candidate based on what they read on Facebook. In a September 2016 article from The Washington Post, How Facebook could swing the election – and who will benefit “Facebook can influence millions of votes by the literal press of a button,” said Michael Brand, a professor of data science at Monash University in Australia.
What is really interesting to me about this topic now in 2017 is that if everyone actually cared about the news they were reading 6-12 months ago, we wouldn’t be having this uneasy feeling to start fact checking everything we read now, including from our most reliable news sources. I know I don’t like walking around not knowing what just happened in Washington D.C. to the country I love and not knowing what’s the next big news story just around the corner.
In an effort to educate myself and our household, my husband and I agreed we needed to invest in more trustworthy news sources to help educate ourselves with factual news. We agreed that The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to have the most credible stories with multiple sources being cited in their stories on a regular basis. I did some research and found that I was able to get a FREE subscription to The Washington Post and a discount subscription to The New York Times because I am an educator. I applaud these news sources for allowing educators and others to obtain their news with such access.
I feel our current President has put us on a news roller coaster since his inauguration, which is extremely exhausting to follow at times. While I may not agree with the policies the President has put into place, I feel it is my duty as a tax paying, voting American citizen to educate myself on what is happening to MY country. I vowed a long time ago to take social responsibility online and to not share any news stories on social media that are nonfactual and not vetted by a credible news source. I would like to challenge all social media moguls (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg) to make it part of your user online rights and responsibilities to have all your users check off on a “online social responsibility policy”. There are policies in place that you cannot use online images without the permission of the creator of the image, (and yes thank you to everyone who keeps cutting and pasting the same “rumor” FB policy from 2009), I believe that everyone who wants to help make a more educated and informed society to take the same online social responsibility pledge with me. I ask everyone to have more accountability online when posting new stories and to not repost anything from a non-credible source.
But realistically money drives our world. What amount of advertising dollars would Facebook and other social media sites loose if their fake news sources couldn’t post on their website anymore? What would society be if online trolls who like to stir the pot with fearful posts about what is not actually happening in our country or worldwide do with all their free time? Wasn’t the internet created for us to share more information at our fingertips and to keep people in touch, but has since torn friendships and families apart? Take responsibility for your posts, delete them if you think they are untrue, follow up with educated responses when you find someone who is not like-minded as you, and learn to listen more than you speak (or post).