Easily Believed, Dangerously Spread

More and more people get their news content from social media, but do they stop to fact check before believing, and sharing, everything they read?

The days of reading a newspaper while you sip your coffee during breakfast are over. We scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, even Snapchat to get our daily dose of news today. Like anything on social media, anybody can post anything their heart desires, whether it’s true or not. There’s no harm in practicing your freedom of speech and expression, but the danger comes when people’s false posts get mistaken for factual information, and spread like wildfire.

So often people will send out a Tweet absentmindedly, not stopping to fact-check, research, or double-check if their information is factual.

One example came from the recent horrific Pittsburg shooting, where Twitter user Stone Cold sent out the above tweet. Rose Mallinger, one of the victims of the shooting, was not a Holocaust survivor. This information, whoever, spread across the internet and several social media platforms. This particular tweet was retweeted more than four thousand times.

This photo of comedian, actress and producer Amy Schumer made its rounds on Twitter and other social media claiming to be her stance on abortion. The actress and photographer recently released a statement clarifying that this photo had nothing to do with abortion right, politics, voting, or Democrats. Twitter users that spread this photo across social media platforms without a second thought only add to false information being spread, and potentially believed.

Another popular photograph that was circulated around the internet that claimed to show a bloodied police officer. The original post said that Mexican police officers were brutally beaten by a caravan of migrants making their way through their Central America.

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The issue of fake news spreading on Twitter is a problem very well-known to the public and Twitter founders. Californa students are in the midst of developing an algorithm to track and stop Twitter bots, which are responsible for a good chunk of fake news being spread on social media.

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Today’s government and its leaders do a fantastic job (insert sarcasm) in insigating this culture of factual news. President Trump is notoroious for claiming CNN is “fake news” every time he is unsatisfied with their content. It has became quite a comical catch phrase of his presidency.

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One of the best examples of these “alternative facts” from the Trump administration was when they claimed to have a larger crowd size than Obama’s inaguration. Trump and his team tweeted and said his crowds were larger than Obama’s, claiming to have the largest turnout yet. Passionate Trump supporters were excited and quickly spread this news, but simple side-by-side photos showed that the fake news the administration was putting out was just that: fake.

False news stories are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than true ones. 70%. With the amount of tweets and posts thats make their way around the internet, that is an insane statistic. Like everything on social media, think before you post. Think before you click that re-tweet button. Fact-check, do your research, and maybe we’ll all start moving towards a more respected media.