The Impact of Misinformation
Even though you may not think you are affected by misinformation, you probably are. Whether you like it or not, at some point during your life you have probably read or shared information that wasn’t 100% true. According to Pew Research, “23% [of Americans] say they have shared a made-up news story – either knowingly or not.” Most of the time you and your friends will not intentional share incorrect information. However, it is always good to be aware that people on the internet do create false statements in order to:
- Gain power
- Get money
- Gather followers
Sadly, not everyone is focused on creating a more media literate society.
My Misinformation Relationship
When looking at my own relationship with misinformation, it is hard to find the line between what I believe to be misinformation and what I believe to be true because I am biased towards myself. Through the readings and lectures of this class, I have been able to better acknowledge when I see misinformation compared to when the information is actually sourced from true information and credible sources.
I would like to say I have never fallen for misinformation, however, I know that would be a lie. I think misinformation has impacted me by making me have less faith in our media and news curators. Specifically during the Covid-19 pandemic, I realized the internet contains large amounts of information that is not credible. Additionally, I realized how fast false information can spread.
I remember when there were different “remedies” that were circulating on the internet about how to protect yourself from Covid-19. I knew these “remedies” to be false because many reputable sources reported that the remedy does not actually have any scientific evidence to back up the claims.
I believe that my skepticism of the media has largely been impacted and fortified by the events that took place throughout the pandemic. The amount of misinformation that was presented to me at every turn, was staggering. The difficult question I often found myself struggling to answer was “who should I believe?” The government, the CDC, independent research facilities, or people with personal experiences and stories.
I have a very difficult time believing a lot of what the government and CDC say because their efforts can be traced back to money and power. Then when news comes out about hidden information and misrepresented facts or evidence, my skepticism rises. According to the Science journal, which is a non-profit organization, “Science investigation of journal disclosures and pharmaceutical funding records shows potential influence on physician gatekeepers.” This conflict of interest heightens my suspicions.
Tips to Combat Fake News
This video provides a good overview of ways to combat fake news by learning how to implement what John Spencer calls the 5 C’s of critical consuming.
5 C’s of critical consuming:
These are great steps that each of us can take when reading something on the internet. First, we can look at the context and ask ourselves where did this article come from? When was it written? These questions help us identify whether this is a reputable source or not.
Second, check the credibility of the source. Who wrote it and do they have a reputation of telling the truth or expanding upon lies. Are there any credible sources cited in the article?
Third, analyze the construction of the article itself. Is there bias or propaganda in the text? Can you distinguish the difference between the facts and opinions written in the article?
Fourth, you should corroborate the information with other credible sources. If the article is the only article you can find that is claiming said information, it may not be true.
Fifth, it’s great to compare the article in question against other sources to gain a larger perspective and not keep a narrow minded opinion. For instance, look at the other side of the argument and read what they are saying on the matter.
Adding these five steps when looking at media and news has helped me from falling into the trap of misinformation. Because of all of my media literate classes, I have been very vigilant when it comes to news and media. Typically, when I see something that catches my eye because it’s rather interesting or seems very far fetched, I use the skills I have developed in these classes to form a logical understanding of misinformation.