28 February 2018
Breaking News or Just A Meme?
Imagine sitting in a crowded library, only two hours before your twenty point free response quiz in Economics on the current state of cryptocurrency. Only you have no idea what cryptocurrency is and you clearly do not have enough time to go through pages and pages of outdated books in order to gain the knowledge you need in order to pass the quiz. You have given up all
hope and have decided to scroll through Twitter for your solution. While scrolling through endless amounts useless tweets you come across this meme with a caption saying;
“Clink the link to make money NOW!”
And just like that, you dive into the world of Bitcoin and a few hours later you go home with another A+ to magnetically pin on the fridge. In today’s society there are many ways of gaining news and information. With the use of social media, information has been able to spread and reach audiences that it has never been able to reach in the past. With just a couple of taps on an electronic screen anyone, anywhere in the world can find out anything about any subject. This accessibility to information has many advantages as well as disadvantages. Information often times becomes warped and out of context. This leaves people confused and unaware of what is actually going on in the world. Social media is one of the biggest contributing factors as to why this information becomes misinterpreted. However, social media has also made it so that almost anyone can receive this news and information which can help spread useful information. Because of this vast expansion of giving and receiving information through social media, it is important to know when they are reliable or not.
Social media has become the number one way for people to gain news and information in today’s world. There is now an endless supply of easily accessible information that almost anyone can get to by just pulling their cell phone out of their pocket and tapping a few virtual buttons. Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram, just to name a few, are all forms of social media that offer easy accessibility to news and information. Research from the Tribune
Content Agency Graphics shows that 15 percent of Twitter users get their news from using the app. 11 percent for YouTube and 12 percent for Snapchat. These social platforms are used by millions of people across the globe and allow endless amounts of information to be spread and interpreted. Sometimes the information is true and valid while others are just jokes or scams created by these millions of users. It has come to a point where these apps are being used for spreading news and information almost as much as they are being used for entertainment.
Another big part of this new wave of information traveling through social media is that a lot of it becomes misinterpreted or is fake news created in order to cause confusion in society. “Internet trolls”, people who try to cause controversial confusion over the internet, take up a large percentage of people on the internet. “In a survey of over 3,000 Americans, 47 percent reported experiencing some sort of online harassment or abuse” from these “Internet trolls”(Buxton). This online harassments comes in many different forms. One of them being the creation and use of fake news. Fake news can sometimes look and sound real, however there is usually something that is incorrect and has been made a rumor in order to confuse and/or anger people. In recent politics and the presidential election, fake news has flourished and become one of the top issues in America. In the most recent presidential race “the amount of online fake news that circulated during the final months of the presidential race is coming to light, a disturbing revelation that threatens to undermine the country’s democratic process.”(Sundar). It has become such an issue that even the democratic process has been compromised. It was an issue that was deeply discussed by Barack Obama and his political director. According to an article in The New Yorker, “Obama and Simas talked almost obsessively about an article in BuzzFeed that described how the Macedonian town of Veles had experienced a ‘digital gold rush’ when a small group of young people there published more than a hundred pro-Trump Websites, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers.”(Heer). This a perfect example of how fake news can even affect a government election. Social media has become far more than just for entertainment purposes. It is now something that even affects the way government works.
While social media causes many problems in terms of passing news and information, it also has a significant upside. Because of this easy accessibility, more people are able to be informed with what is going on in the world. Whether or not the news is valid people are always learning something new on social media. It is almost impossible to go on social media and not see something you have never seen before. There are new things being introduced to the world at a much larger rate than it has before. Social media can also cause certain things to become relevant in today’s society. “Today fewer people are systematically reading our papers and tuning into our news programs for a simple reason—many people don’t feel we serve them anymore. We are, literally, out of touch” says Michael Skoler, the vice president of Public Radio International. The simplicity of social media is what allows it to thrive. Anyone can enter into the world of social media and do almost anything they want with it. The world is becoming electronically based. With that comes a social media based society.
Where will this use of social media lead us in the next years? How will it affect the way people think and interact with each other? At the pace society and technological advances are moving, we are getting close to a world revolving around social media. It doesn’t seem like something to fear but rather just something to be cautious of. Social media can be used for good and bad equally. As long as people are aware of the good and the bad, the fate of society is in it’s own hands. People are the ones who control social media. These ideas of fake news are not appearing out of thin air. They are created by social media users like you and me.
“Where Social Media Users Get their News.” Tribune Content Agency Graphics, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com.chaffey.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/NRLDTU762935180/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=52805b86. Accessed 1 Mar. 2018.
Buxton, Madeline. “The Internet Problem We Don’t Talk Enough About.” Refinery29, www.refinery29.com/online-harassment-statistics-infographic.
Sundar, S. Shyam. “Social Media Users Must Start Checking Online News Sources.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com.chaffey.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/KCQRIU467955724/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=622d3da0. Accessed 8 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Why do we fall for fake news?” The Conversation, 7 Dec. 2016.
Heer, Jeet. “Voters Use Fake News to Justify Their Support for Undesirable Candidates.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com.chaffey.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/LLXGTE632164920/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=7e15419a. Accessed 8 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Fake News Isn’t the Problem,” New Republic, 18 Nov. 2016.
Skoler, Michael. “Social Media Can Make Traditional News Organizations More Relevant.” The Global Impact of Social Media, edited by Dedria Bryfonski, Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com.chaffey.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/EJ3010779207/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=d688c678. Accessed 8 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Why the News Media Became Irrelevant—and How Social Media Can Help: ‘Only the Savviest of Journalists Are Using the Networks for the Real Value They Provide in Today’s Culture—As Ways to Establish Relationships and Listen to Ot,” Nieman Reports, vol. 63, no. 3, Fall 2009, pp. 38-40.