I’ve barely caught my breath after the recent example of a politician getting duped by a fake account, and then this happens. If you checked your Facebook feed today you likely were exposed to one or both of these stories; Trump wants the National Guard to arrest illegals, and/or ICE Raids are increasing. It seems the headlines pushed on social media are less that true (imagine that…). The problem here isn’t the fake news, it is how we’ve grown accustomed to it and its’ effects.
We all should have known something was going on a few years ago when we started seeing those annoying FB ads that went something like this; “You can save $100 by doing this one weird trick…” Back then we called it clickbait. We all were fooled by it in the beginning, (I’ll admit, I wanted to see what the one weird trick was for losing weight), but after a while we realized we were played by a bunch of advertising geeks who found a solid way to help their lead-gen people. And good for them! The downside of this however, was when quasi-news sites picked up the tactic and used it to generate traffic to their sites. Fast forward two years and one contentious election, and we arrive at the time and place where a fake news story about activating the national guard goes viral.
It has become far too easy for people to see a headline, believe it, and then re-tweet or post it in less than 30 seconds. This is especially true if the article fits that person’s ideology. In this manner, false accusations, rumors, and life-destroying information is pushed to millions with nothing in place to stop or slow its’ progress. Thankfully Facebook is trying to tackle the echo chambers within their own feeds, but to blame social media for the spread of bad information is dishonest. It really comes down to each of us as users.
Tweets, status updates, memes, comments and even posted articles are considered a part of normal human communication. Each of those things reflects on us as users, on our communities, and ultimately on our countries. Each of them carry a great deal of responsibility. If we take a few extra seconds to fact-check what we post, we can curb the fake news and bring a little sanity, not to mention honesty, back to our social media.