Do You Believe Everything You See On The Internet?

It’s beginning to get difficult to decipher what’s real and what’s fake nowadays. People have gotten too good at tricking others whether we are being tricked about a person, an object, or even something that should be objective such as news. There are various forms of news outlets such as television and radio, but now the most influential news outlet is the internet and other social media platforms. Usually when people digest news stories, they automatically assume them to be bona fide. News used to be something that was always reliable, and it was an easy way to get caught up with the fast-paced world around us. However with the outbreak of fake news outlets plaguing social media, more people everyday are becoming doubtful of their news credibility, and it’s causing tremendous confusion in the United States specifically dealing with the recent Presidential Election in November 2016.

From the death of the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe, to the Cleveland Indians losing a 3–1 lead against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, and last but not least Donald Trump winning the electoral college granting him presidency, many can agree that 2016 won’t be one of the years recognized for its greatest accomplishments. Michael Barthel, Amy Mitchell and Jesse Holcomb are apart of The Pew Research Center and gathered data at the end of 2016; a year which many people would call an era of disappointment. After analyzing the data collected, they concluded that 64% of Americans are in a great deal of confusion due to the spread of fake news or “alternative facts”. With the controversial election and extremely divided nation, it made it simple for con-artists in foreign countries to get involved in American politics; it also made it easier to convince ignorant Americans with false news articles to sway their political opinions due to the articles seeming authentic. Many Americans who are normally good are deciphering between the garbage articles and the credible ones, are beginning to notice their detective skills are failing them. The Pew Research Center article, “Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion,” states that 16% of Americans have shared a fake news article thinking it was fact-based; however, they later realized it was a fake news post.

So I’m sure you’re thinking, yes fake news is obviously an issue, but how are we supposed to stop it from occurring? Unfortunately the answer isn’t that simple. If the government were to get involved in fake news scandals and start censoring search engines and social media platforms, it would infringe on everyone's right to freedom of speech included in the First Amendment causing yet another issue. You all may or may not be surprised, but fake news isn’t a new issue; in fact, fake news is current day propaganda. During the war era in the early-mid 1900s, propaganda was a huge factor in all of the global events such as WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Slowly but surely those events passed and so did the war propaganda, and I believe the same thing will happen with the current day political propaganda dealing with American affairs. The issue won’t get resolved overnight, but if people learn the many signs of fake news then it won’t be as big of a problem. People need to start self-educating and realizing that they can’t believe everything that’s on Facebook.

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