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Media Literacy in an era of fake news


Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2020. 8:32 am CST.

ByZoila Palma Gonzalez:  The Covid-19 pandemic has brought forth significant challenges to political campaigns in Belize. As a result, political parties have turned to social media to get their message out to the electorate.

However, navigating social media in an era of fake news can be challenging and therefore it is imperative for the public to educate and inform themselves on media literacy.

In the digital world, people can find real and accurate stories, fact check articles and also be exposed to fake news and misinformation.

As such, media literacy is crucial to enhance the public’s own responsibility in their media consumption.

Media Literacy education provides the skills to be able to think critical and make informed decisions.

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy to families that promote technology and media for children says that many young adults have hard time finding unbiased information about issues and candidates when it comes to political campaigns, and with the increasing number of fake pages popping up, it can also be difficult to know what is real and what is fake.

Here are some tips to assist you in identifying real or fake information before sharing it on social media:


  • Read the article or caption, think about the information being shared. Is the person who shared it trustworthy? Is the page an official page?


  • Other factors to consider: legitimate news articles have attribution. Is the author’s name included?
  • Is the article objective? New organizations and journalists strive to remain neutral especially on political issues.


  • Fact check: If something happened in Belize, it is usual for more than one media house to report on the situation unfolding.  For example: Breaking Belize News, Channel 7, Channel 5, Krem and Love FM all have stories surrounding the same issue with Nestor Vasquez and his resignation from BTL. Search other sources to read and inform yourself.


  • Pay attention to sponsored content: Media organizations often include a disclaimer to allow readers to know that the articles or items are sponsored content.


  • You can also compare the information being shared. For example, media houses attached to political parties may share articles or even videos with political campaigns and ads about a particular situation.


  • Lastly, consider your role as a super-spreader if you decide to share that article or video. In the digital world, information, videos, photos and memes become viral by seconds but as responsible digital citizens, it becomes our responsibility for what we share on social media.


Now, more than ever it is important for people to be able to think critically while online, recognize real and fake and avoid the virality of misinformation. 



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