I’m like ‘Fake news,’ and fact check it too
By Colten Kamlade, Columnist
A lot of attention has been given to fake news recently. The election in the states was a breeding ground for sensationalist stories, and it embittered people against news agencies. Right now, everyone is critical of everything, and it’s not just small time news and tabloids they’re skeptical of. The unreliability of organizations like CNN and Fox News has left people feeling hopeless. How can we know anything about current affairs when there is no consensus as to what is true? This is a problem, but the solution is easy: people have to check their facts. The truth is out there; it just takes some investigating to discover. So, if the solution is easy, then why does fake news still circulate?
Gullibility is an obvious answer. As outrageous as the headline “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead” sounds, many people believed it. I have friends who share these kind of stories all the time. Needless to say, they are influenced by this propaganda. Who they are voting for is shaped by fake news, and if voters are making decisions based on such erroneous information, then democracy is in bad shape.
Fake news also circulates because people use information as a weapon. Fake articles are not posted as misguided attempts at sharing knowledge, but as proclamations of an individual’s political stance. Whether the information is true or not is irrelevant. People post articles to entrench themselves as either conservative or liberal. Even when news is proven to be false, they don’t care. These political zealots see their denial of reality as a sign of faith in their political position.
There are two ways you can respond to such fanaticism. The first option is to ignore them. You can scroll on by and not give their article any more attention. The other, far more tempting option, is to dig your own trench and use your enemies’ own weapons: propaganda and misinformation.
There is the possibility that someone made an honest mistake. If you believe this to be the case, send them a private message about it. They might surprise you and admit their fault. At the very least you won’t get caught in a pointless public argument.
I have said that dishonest news divides, and I believe that the opposite is true of news dedicated to honesty. It helps people find common ground. Truth is rarely “left” or “right,” but somewhere in between, and that’s where we can begin having constructive conversations.