We must remain vigilant in an era of fake news

Anna Beth Peters, Staff Columnist

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As I sat at my desk on my second day back to classes, one of my professors brought an interesting question to the table: If the president of the United States says something, does that make it true? The whole class unanimously answered no, as everyone shook their heads in disapproval.

Our professor continued with her spiel, stating that the internet makes fact-checking incredibly accessible, yet most people still don’t do their own research. The discussion piqued my interest, and I began to think about the fascinating effects of technology on news.

We live in the age of social media. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other platform, we’re constantly checking our feeds, posting our opinions and displaying our thoughts and actions. Almost everyone is a culprit, and almost everyone has become numb to social media culture.

As a result, news is now more accessible than ever. People share news articles on socials all the time, and this current trend has led to the new phenomenon of “fake news.” Even though we realize that many things posted online aren’t completely accurate, most people don’t want to take time out of their day to uncover the truth. Most people don’t even take the time to read a full news article.

Social media and the accessibility of the internet have distracted us from the importance of current events. Even though these two things have the potential of enforcing the importance of news, people have gotten lazy in their efforts to seek out information. Most of the younger generation probably doesn’t even read print newspapers, and if they come across any news at all, it’s from Twitter or Facebook.

I don’t believe the progression of technology is inherently evil, or that people posting news to social media mean to do harm. However, society has gotten entirely too comfortable with the internet. There’s always the possibility of coming across a completely reliable source, one that is 100 percent accurate. However, the only way to discover this is to put some effort into investigating the claim.

We take the information that we consume online to be an absolute truth. I’m guilty of this too, and I often have to remind myself to consider the legitimacy of articles posted to socials. Fixing this issue is as easy as picking up the New York Times and giving it a read, or even just Googling a headline you’ve seen in a Facebook post.

Keeping up with current events is a vital part of human existence. We must remember, as members of society, that celebrity drama and viral videos aren’t directly playing into our existence. Knowledge is power, and one of the greatest ways to obtain it is through acknowledging the happenings of the world around you. So, watch the news, read the paper, check your facts and remember: Just because someone said it, doesn’t mean it’s true – even if they are the president of the United States.