Fake news is not a new phenomenon, however, the importance of being media literate is increasingly paramount in our evolving media and news environment that is becoming dominated by social media.
Andie Tucher, a historian and journalism professor at Columbia University says that: “People have not yet sorted out in their minds how they’re going to incorporate [social media] into their news stream,” Furthermore, people may believe social media fake news because it seems to be “more magical, more interesting or even more authoritative because it seems more unmediated.”
A recent study conducted by Stanford University has found that students, from middle school to college, lack a sufficient understanding of how to evaluate information on social media and are thus more prone to accept fake news. To me, this is a shocking revelation. Due to the exponential use of social media in our society, students of this generation and of generations to come will be constantly and primarily engaged with news through social media platforms. This, in turn, will further the vulnerability of students in believing fake news.
For this reason, it is absolutely necessary that we become media literate on both an individual and societal level.
The Media Literacy Project defines media literacy as: “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from all forms of media.”
The recent prevalence of fake news stories and fake news discussion proves that it is an on-going issue. I have argued that although it is a not an new phenomenon, the influence and potency of fake news is significantly higher in our society’s news environment that is heavily shaped by social media.
Fake news will not go away. However, we can and we must become more aware of and more active in combating the issue.
Here are a few links on how to become more media literate:
Verification Handbook: A Definitive Guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage (Verification Handbook)
How to Spot Fake News (Fact Check)
Fact Checking (Poynter)
The Fact Checkers Guide for Detecting Fake News (Washington Post)