OP-ED: Misinformation on social media and how to avoid it

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Social media has greatly changed the way in which information is spread.

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Many social media platforms thrive off of the spread of false information since it causes people to interact with their respective apps, which is important to keep in mind when scrolling through your feeds. The more shock value a headline has, the more likely you are to click on it. In an educational setting, it has become essential to ensure that your media resources are strongly supported through academic sources.

Agency and social media

Education is valuable for learning new content, but it also provides individuals with agency. The skill of being able to make our own choices on what we believe to be correct, can expand our ability to find “uncommon sense”. It allows individuals to explore more options that were not believed to exist beforehand. 

Picture sitting down at a restaurant.

Initially, when looking at the menu there appears to be so many options to choose from. Once browsing however, there is nothing that sounds appealing. This is an example of agency the ability to choose what is right for the individual. Without education, this menu would not even be accessible. Provided an education the menu becomes available, however it is still limited. The leaders of this world are the ones creating the menu that most choose from, but it is our job to expand it by testing their logic.

Choosing Media Carefully

Make sure that the people you allow to influence your opinion are educated in the field in which they are presenting information in. In some cases, influencers with large followings will begin to share personal political views even if they are not properly educated in the topic. An example would be podcaster Joe Rogan, when he began discussing how he believed horse tranquilizer would protect an individual from COVID-19.  

The celebrities and influencers that an individual follows, shapes the media they are being exposed to. To a certain extent, everyone is the editor of their own paper.

Each individual chooses what information to read, which can potentially keep someone in a sphere of harmful ideologies since they will be shown similar media to the ones they have already interacted with. Alternative perspectives will not appear on their feed which will leave some individuals with a skewed outlook. In a way, everyone is biased based on their upbringing and geographical location. 

Helpful Academic Sources

As students, we have access to many academic databases, which are all available on the UNB libraries website sorted by the genre of research articles on the site. Since they are academic websites, most of the content is reputable enough to be used in a school project or paper. 

If you find information on another website and are struggling to find a way to check its integrity, make sure to look at the authors to check their credibility, and check the publishing date to make sure that it has not been outdated.