Welcome back to the start of a certainly interesting semester. This year has been a turbulent, scary and often empowering one for so many people, and if you log onto pretty much any social media platform, you’ll find that a lot of young people have nose-dived straight into the world of current events and politics. That’s very exciting and inspiring! But, it’s important to remember that engaging with media outlets can lead to a different kind of pandemic going around: fake news. Fake news can lead us to believe ideas and statistics that are completely made up, oftentimes for the sole purpose of leading the reader astray. Whether you’re getting your news on Twitter, Facebook or even the most accredited news sources, here are a few resources that let you critically engage with the news and avoid the spread of fake news.
Every “fact” you read or hear is just a Google search away!
Let’s face it. We’ve all come across viral Tweets about some politician, event or movement that seems… questionable. Did that thing really happen? Is that policy actually real? Instead of just accepting it as the truth point-blank, it’s so easy to just open a new tab and look it up. One of my favorite features of Google is the way the answer 90 percent of the time comes up in a neat little box at the top. In the event that you discover the Tweet is fake news, make it a point to quote-Tweet and correct the person!
Use notable fact-checking websites.
Did you know that there are whole websites dedicated to spotting fake news and correcting it? While it’s unfortunate that these sites have to exist in the first place, they’re nonetheless incredibly helpful. Here’s a quick list of nonpartisan, credible fact-checking sites, according to Middlebury Libraries:
Know how to read a news article with a critical eye.
It’s easy to forget that the news we read, regardless of where it comes from, is written by a real, living person. That person has their own political beliefs and biases, and although, journalistically, it’s expected to remain as unbiased as possible, that’s not often (arguably rarely) the case. Statistics can be skewed and maps can be misleading. Sometimes the wording of an article is deliberately written to distract you from contradictions or misinformation. Pay attention to the media and what’s happening in the world, but always remember that you are not always immune to fake news!