Fake News: How to avoid its overtake on social media


Josh Todd

Fake News is all you can see when going on social media.

by Joshua Todd, Reporter

The use of social media in the modern age is destroying the way our culture views and uses the news.

The art of reporting on current events is a necessity for our democracy. This art is being degraded into fake stories to stir up publicity and conspiracy theories that spark calls for action.

Going on Instagram’s, Twitter’s, or Snapchat’s explore pages will lead you to posts from people who are ranting and raving about opposing political parties, scandals in celebrities’ lives, and the dark sides of the world.

Professional journalists are the most trustworthy sources, but the freedom of social media allows anyone to tell these stories in a way that they see fit. If that includes bending the truth to gain more attention, then who’s to stop them?

Platforms that host these lies don’t seem to be any help in the control. Facebook, a platform that has a severe issue with the spread of misinformation, continues to promote lies. The site says that these lies don’t go against their community guidelines, meaning there’s no real stop to the gross use of the platform’s abilities. With the owners of these platforms not taking down these divisive properties, they allow this spread of lies to be gladly and freely promoted.

The posts that gain popularity are predominantly not researched by the poster. Stories are bent to showcase one side; people are given sympathy when in the wrong; people are vilified when in the right; and cultures/systems are belittled for the simple benefit of a “like.” This is divisive and dangerous to the public’s well-being.

However, don’t get me wrong – I believe everyone has the right to share their opinion. No matter your beliefs, you’re guaranteed the ability to freely share your thoughts on current situations and events that you feel need your input. But when it comes to making up information to support your cause, or belittling those who seem in the wrong, you’re going against decency. 

Donald Trump’s Twitter account is an example of this obscenity. The president has been tweeting aggressively about everyone who opposes him, from politicians to students. He recently tweeted, “The Democrats are Fixers, and they are working overtime to FIX the Impeachment “Process” in order to hurt the Republican Party and me. Nancy Pelosi should instead Fix her broken District and Corrupt Adam should clean up & manage the California forests which are always burning!”

In my high school, no one is allowed to speak this way. What gives the president the right to talk like this towards members of the democracy? What kind of example does this set for our future generations?

Referring to the entire Democratic political party as corrupt couldn’t be further from the truth. This contributes to the deep divide in the country. The disregard of an innocent group of people who share similar beliefs is against decency, and shouldn’t have the power it does.

This issue of vilification used to only be stemmed from tabloid columns and gossip pages, but it’s now being used on social media. With a poll from the Pew Research Center saying over 68% of American’s gain their news from this medium, this low-grade form of attention grabbing gossip is front page and center.

Many of these social media stories use click-bait based titles and hooks in order for people to actually care about what they are going to hear or read. The process of using these tactics is not only breaking down the trustworthiness of the news, but is also causing a toxicity when it comes to serious and tragic incidents. News sources should be respectful towards situations when writing about them.

Unfortunately, this respect and care is gone. 

A great example of this came with the death of the actor Cameron Boyce. Boyce was on the hit TV show Jessie. His death was sudden and shocked many people. However, when it came to reporting on the situation, popular news sources used click-bait titles that really demeaned his death. One article on the NBC News page on Snapchat entitled “How did THIS Disney Star Suddenly Die??” really shows off how clicks are more important than the story.

This opinion on the use of social media destroying the news is popular with many. A poll showcasing America’s growing lack of trust in its media from Medium shows that the majority is in agreement that social media is a problem when it comes to trust and reliability within the news. 

Junior Natalie Roth said, “Social media spreads good awareness of the news, but that doesn’t mean that the news is always accurate.” says Roth. “It’s up to the viewer [on] whether or not they are going to do further research.”

The way that people have absolute control on how we are viewing our way of life based on lackluster research and care is dangerous and divisive.

With the spread all of these click-bait based articles, misinformed stories, and toxic platforms, it’s important for us to know how to avoid posts and articles like this, so we can focus our attention on media that truly knows what it’s talking about. I’ve found four great ways to combat this system of fake news, so that truth can prosper.

Don’t Click on Click-Bait

I know, click-bait can be very enticing. When an article appears that has a title of, “You Won’t BELIEVE What THIS Celeb Did!” it’s hard to not draw your attention to it. The attraction of this gossip about those we look up to is so enticing due to the overall mysteries that lie behind the title.

These titles, however, usually lead to boring stories that aren’t thought out and have little to no effect on the reader. 

Sure, they generally show the answer to the title’s question, but the website that hosts the article usually is filled with ads that support the company using these cheap tactics. It shows the site leaders that these sort of articles work at getting them money, so they continue to use titles like these. This eradicates the worthiness and the integrity of the news, as more platforms look at this success and use similar ideals to make themselves grow. The best plan to promote good media is to ignore these articles all together.

Resist Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracies are usually interesting to think up and look into. They show off aspects of our society that most mark off as unnoticed. But the use of these conspiracies can lead to the destruction and misfortune of people and business. 

Think of the Shane Dawson & Chuck E. Cheese conspiracy. When Dawson’s Conspiracy Series was released on YouTube back in January, he theorized that Chuck E. Cheese takes uneaten pizza slices and creates a full pizza out of them. This amalgamation of slices are then sold to customers as ‘fresh’. It started off as a simple joke that did not have any research to back it up besides misshapen pizza slices.

 However, people took his theory as real information, a factor that badly hit Chuck E. Cheese’s company. Many people did, and still do, mistrust the pizza that can be consumed. 

This type of news is dangerous for people and companies when widely spread. Lively-hoods are at risk when misinformation can go viral. That’s why it’s important you don’t believe any conspiracies until there is enough evidence to 100% back them up. If not, then you’re endangering innocent people and businesses.

Don’t Comment or Re-post on Controversial Subjects

When you see a post raving about an issue in a childish way, it’s best to not respond. When you comment or re-post an issue you’re promoting the controversy onto your social media page, causing more people to get angry in the situation; in turn spreading the toxicity. 

Situations like the Impeachment process, cultural issues throughout the world, and overall divisive topics require strong opinions. Just because someone strongly goes against your opinion, doesn’t make your beliefs any less invalid. Just because someone strongly agrees with your opinion, doesn’t mean you can rudely trash the opposing opinion.

I’m not saying you cannot believe in what you want, or that you’re not allowed to share your feelings. I’m saying tactics like these create such a divide, and spread the situation beyond reason. It’s best to leave the situation as is, and not interact with the post in question.  

Get News from Verified Sources

Even though many get their news from social media, verified publishers of the news still exist. Publishers like The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Daily Wire, and The Washington Post share many stories without the under researched themes social media uses.

Many people turn a blind eye to these platforms, since most are beginning to use subscription fees in order to view their stories. However, due to the overarching factor of the disregard for major truths in social media outlets, these subscriptions are worth the purchase. It’s best to pay for real information from reliable sources then to be fed fake news through unreliable people.

With the widespread use of fake news on social media, it’s important to focus your attention on sources who truly have a good understanding of what they’re talking about. The livelihood of fact based information lies within the interest of the reader.