Our parents and our educators have taught us since we were young to not believe everything we read and see on the Internet. However, it seems that we as readers and news distributors are perhaps becoming blind to the line that divides credible and artificial news sources.
Facebook as an Instigator
The historical 2016 Presidential Election pays tribute to the amount of news being shared on Facebook. While the social media network creates a platform for us to share our opinions and interests, it has become flooded with news articles that question the credibility of journalists. As mentioned by the BuzzFeed Article, "How Fake News Outperformed Real News on Facebook," by the end of the election, 8.7 million news shares were found to be fake, while the remaining 7.3 million shares were credible. Shockingly, and perhaps the reason to an incredible polarization, the majority of news distributors cannot find the line between credible and faux news outlets.
While many are not concerned with this problem, The Huffington Post decided to test its readers by using somewhat of a clickbait tactic to teach them a lesson. They outsmarted their readers by headlining an article to appease readers, however readers were saddened to found out that the content within spoke volumes about the way we are starting to believe everything we come across.
I find in my daily social networking that I am becoming aware of who my audience is that actually reads the information they are sharing with who shares information solely based on the headline.
What I wish my fellow Facebook users understood is that news is not credible if it biased. While networks like CNN and FOX are suspect of swinging more liberal and conservative, they still present news content that is credible.
Social Media users have the freedom to share whatever news that pleases them, however they have a responsibility to recognize credibility from straight clickbait or online media trolls. During the election I had many Facebook friends sharing news that swayed their decisions from websites like "The Conservative Tribune" or "Occupy Democrats." While there lies no problem in sharing opinion pieces on such platforms, the problem lies when readers believe this is unbiased, credible content.
Don't Like Clickbait? Don't Click on It!
This TED talk given by News analyst Sally Kohn starts a conversation that recognizes the responsibility of readers to avoid engagement with news outlets or headlines that are preoccupied with getting one's attention more than with distributing unbiased, credible news. She makes a remarkable point by suggesting that readers should "drown out the negative with the positive" by avoiding sharing garbage on the Internet. After all, we are only as good and intelligent as what we read and what we are exposed to.