- There are 3.7 billion internet users
- Our world is becoming more dependent on the internet everyday
- Almost everything we do is done or can be done digitally
- The internet contains both positives and negatives
- Connects people to each other
- Text and Facetime allow for quick communication
- Maintain long distance relationships
- Meet new people/ even find love
- Can communicate with people very far away
- Connects us to the world and what is happening
- Presidential Alert system and emergency services allow for quick response times
- Can learn about what is happening in America and other countries
- News articles are a click away
- Social Media
- Updates us on world/ friends and family
- Movements can be easily spread and shared
- Inspiration and new ideas can be shared with others
So what’s the bad?
There have been numerous examples of how the internet has improved our society and better our own lives. In this digital age, however, we have seen that having these new tools to communicate with each other has led to an increase in privacy concerns. The first concern is that anyone will be able to look you up on any social media website and find out personal information about you. To combat this many social media websites like Twitter and Instagram allow you to set your account to private. When making your account private you are in control. You get to allow or decline certain people from following you and your posts are hidden. On Instagram the privacy mode allows them to only view your profile picture and description. However, the privacy mode does not stop random or spam accounts from attempting to follow you but instead gives you the option to decline them. On Twitter, on the other hand, the privacy settings do a little more. They not only allow you to decline and accept follow request but it also blocks people from retweeting your tweets. This added protection makes it easier for you to be in control of your own social media account while still having the freedom to enjoy the various social media websites. A key thing to remember is that nothing you do online is really private and everything is stored on a database so if someone somehow managed to hack the database they could read everything about your account. For example, my personal Twitter account got hacked and after going through the settings page I was able to request all my data which contained all my tweets even if they were deleted and from what IP address and location they were from. Everything from my email address, phone number, places I tweeted from, to what devices I have used my twitter account on. I was blown away by all the data they had just on me. So remember that when you post on social media you have to understand that whatever you post can and probably will be seen by anyone that cares enough to find it.
What is Fake News? Where did it come from?
Fake news is the term that refers to false news stories that circulate the media, causing confusion over current events and a strong distrust in news outlets. It has emerged largely in the past three years creating a strong disliking in news outlets around the world for reporting incorrect information. This distrust in the media has put all the news we receive under a microscope to determine whether it is true or not. The spread of incorrect news isn’t something completely new as it has been done many times throughout the years. The difference between then and now is that this spread of incorrect information has now been labeled “fake news” which has made a name for itself primarily through the 2016 United States election revolving around Donald Trump.
Donald trump has constantly said that some of the biggest names in the news and media industry have been reporting fake news. He has named the New York Times and CNN repeatedly because of their outspokenness towards him. Much of what Trump has said through his tweets can be seen as fake news itself because they are often just opinion-based statements defending and deflecting negative attention off himself. One of his tweets stated, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People.” I do not agree with this because these are long standing companies that have strong reputations over decades of news reporting. This is just another form of Trump attacking the news and media by trying to trick the public into thinking that these news companies are the real enemy.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the spread of fake news has been Facebook because of its vast reach and influence around the world. In an article by Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow in which they show the influence that fake news held in the 2016 election, they found at least “115 pro-Trump fake news stories that were shared on Facebook a total of 30 million times, and 41 pro-Clinton stories shared a total of 7.6 million times” (Allcott, Gentzkow 212). This shows that not only was Facebook vital in the spread of fake news, but it begs the question, could Trump have won the election without fake news being in his favor?
Though the whole existence of fake news is based on lies and the name itself carries a negative connotation, I see it as somewhat of a learning experience about what to look for and avoid when reading any news. In an article titled With Facebook, Blogs, and Fake News, Teens Reject Journalistic “Objectivity”the author Regina Marchi says, “teens gravitate toward fake news, “snarky” talking radio, and opinionated current events shows more than official news… not because they are disinterested in news but because these kinds of sites often offer more substantive discussions of the news and its implications” (Marchi 257). With teenagers being more inclined to read fake news stories, parents and teachers should take advantage of this to show them the dangers and deception that come with these stories. There is no use in trying to ignore the problem, we must instead learn from it and work towards eliminating it in the future.
Although fake news may bring valuable lessons about the validity of the information we receive today, by no means do I find it to be an overall benefit to society. The only good that comes from fake news is teaching us how to avoid finding it. In the world we live in today, fact checking news stories has become essential because nobody knows what’s true and what’s not, thus being the reason we are in this situation.