Sunday, November 29, 2015

Verifty Before You Post

Katie King

When some online news organizations announced they were no longer allowing users to comment on content anymore, the response was rather offensive.

The decision made comes with positives and negatives, in my opinion.  In today's society, almost everyone you know is on a social media site.  With the increasing amount of channels, social media has "changed the equation", according to Justin Ellis.  So why not adapt a new approach to handling comments for online stories?

With the recent events that have and are taking place in today's news, social media users are the first to post their opinions online about issues, whether they know what they are talking about or not.  This makes it more difficult when trying to find the line between what is and what isn't journalism.

A benefit to moving the comments to social channels, such as Facebook, is that people already enjoy using social media sites to post their thoughts anyways.  It is easy to access and people like commenting and sharing posts to their friends on Facebook.  According to Tim Ebner, Facebook allows for more enhanced conversation about issues and takes away the ability to comment anonymously.  No more anonymous comments could potentially decrease the amount of negative comments, because generally people feel more comfortable sharing those when their identities aren't known. 

This could also influence online commenters to focus more time on actually proving an interesting point when they comment.  Since friends and family are on Facebook, users may feel more inclined to research their sources to avoid sounding silly.  This could help us define more what can be considered journalistic.

Although Facebook is easy for most to adapt to, not everyone is on Facebook and this poses a problem for those reliable readers who enjoy commenting online.  Emily Bell stated that news organizations "need to understand what it means to hand off interaction to a third party social media site like Facebook."

I believe this causes the negative side of moving comments to social channels.  No longer accepting comments means that more journalism appears on social media sites, which isn't really what they are set up to be.  Therefore, in order for Facebook to be a site where news issues can be taken seriously on it, it needs to change what it is known for.

I think Facebook has already taken steps towards this.  For example, users can now search recent news topics in the search bar.  It is slowly becoming more of a source for information, although I would still question how reliable it is.

   Image by: Pew Research Center

One of the main things to consider when trying to decide if your source is reliable or not is to think where the information is coming from.  User-generated content can not always be considered reliable or accurate. 

With the increase in technology, people want their information as soon as possible.  This makes it more important to focus on if the information you are reading is actually correct.

It is very simple to type in key words in Google, click on the first post that comes up, and rely on what you read to be accurate.  I guess that's why we see so many people commenting these days with information that is wrong or doesn't relate.  But what happens when people start commenting back to your post asking you about your false statements and want you to back up your sources?  Or worse, what happens when people believe your post to be accurate and continue to re-post that information on more sites?

Sources must be checked and information needs to be verified or else we are all just pulling information out of nowhere.

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