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How To High Tide: Fake News

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If you’ve been alive in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard plenty about “fake news.” Most notably, it is fake news that is credited as being a large factor in the election of our current president, Donald Trump. However, this internet sensation is nothing new. Modern fake news has been around since the first social media algorithms, popularized by Facebook and Google. It’s easy to think of fake news as click bait, having headlines such as “Ellen Shocks Fans!” attached to a GIF of Ellen crying. However, much of the fake news is much more dangerous than that. For example, this past year, a popular fake news story that claimed that 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a pizza shop led to a DC area shooting. Fake news is only going to increase as the Internet grows. It’s the job of those using it to stop and identify fake news. Here are five tips to help you do just that.

1. Recognize what Social Media Is

Most FMHS students are on some sort of social media. Whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or a combination of all three, it is important to recognize what social media is. Social media is editable and based on a popularity algorithm. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other mass communication websites are showing the most popular (most reacted to, most shared, most liked) posts to you first. This means that if a fake news article has seen interaction enough times, it will be at the forefront of your feed. Make sure that when you are reading these 140 characters or viewing images, you are taking most of them with a suspicious eye.

2. Check your Sources

There are multiple major news sources that are biased to one side or are user-based. (I’m looking at you, Fox News & CNN.) Make sure you understand the news source’s values. For instance, if you are looking for politics news, stay away from CNN, BuzzFeed, Fox News and Breitbart for your primary source as these tend to lean too left and too right. Even consider going abroad for American political news. BBC is an excellent resource for political news. Other great sources include The Washington Post, NPR, FiveThirtyEight, Politico, Vanity Fair and Reuters. Also, try sources you would never have thought of. I recently got a Vogue subscription with low hopes for politics news. I have been pleasantly surprised to find versatile articles intertwined in today’s fashion.

3. Double-Check Headlines

Scrolling through  Twitter at any given time, headlines seem to flow off of the screen. However, it is important to recognize perspective of headlines. Depending on who wrote an article, the headline could be vastly different. It all depends on the writer’s intention. For instance, an article discussing recent poll results about the favorability between apples and oranges will be written very differently by apple and orange lovers. The apple lover headline could read: “Recent poll shows that apples are at record high 45% favorability.” The orange lover headline could read “Oranges triumph apple favorability in a recent poll.” It’s all sweet when simple apples and oranges are being compared, but when prominent topics are being discussed, these headlines can lead to the spreading of incorrect information. When viewing a headline or reading an article, it’s important to look at a diverse set of headlines to truly get the full story.

4. Keep a Diversity of Mediums

It’s easy to rely on the convenience of your phone and simply get all of your news from Twitter or the News App. However, it’s important to branch out regarding the news that you are viewing. Try picking up a local newspaper (yes, you read that correctly.) Turn the TV channel to PBS. Listen to the radio. Watch CSPAN. If you keep a wide array of mediums, you’ll get a wide array of views. With a large number of views in your head, you’ll more intelligently make choices and formulate your opinions.

5. Know that It Matters

We are entering a new era of communication worldwide, and it’s important for us as students and leaders of tomorrow to have factual information and to be spreading such. With all of the controversy, hate, and bias in today’s world, it is of utmost importance that tomorrow’s leaders be informed and have the ability to form opinions based on a wide variety of information.

So, before you retweet, share, like, comment or post anything, make sure you’re well-informed!

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