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NEWS YOU CAN USE: Avoiding ‘fake news’

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2023. 9:14 pm CST.

By Celeste Chang: When there are so many sources for information, why should we care about so-called ‘fake news?’

The answer has to do with the rise of social media.

On average, people spend several hours online daily consuming information found there.

To this day fake news is still a big problem across social media platforms, including creating unusual and occasionally dangerous trends for people to jump on. Experts have had to come online to set facts straight because some trends like using Borax to lose weight, the penny challenge, the Benadryl challenge and more have had negative effects on people, and in some cases, have caused hospitalization.

Social media became very popular in the early 2000s, with MySpace reaching a million monthly active users in 2004.

People have taken advantage of the effect of social media outlets to become ‘influencers’ on consumers, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased the sense of personal isolation, resulted in greater dependence on social media and greater influence of fake news as it related to health warnings and other topics.

These warnings caused chaos and panic among individuals, causing irrational reactions. In efforts to protect its citizens the government of Belize introduced legislation that allows fines of up to $3,000.

So how can you reduce your susceptibility to fake news? First, critically evaluate the information and the individual or organization giving it. Does this person or group have certification in the topic? Is the information logical and relevant?

Second, do your own research, using reputable sites and sources and fact check especially if the claim has been debunked previously.

Third, be sure to distinguish opinions from facts. As an American senator once verifiably said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”


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