I was already feeling ashamed at the fact that I haven’t been doing the best job of reading the Terms and Conditions of apps prior to taking this class, and now, after this week’s content, I’ve become absolutely embarrassed at my over-trusting relationship with information that is presented to me through Twitter, through credible news sources, and through infographics and videos shared by reputable agencies.
This week’s content catalyst presentations and class content did an excellent job of opening my eyes to the world of Fake News we are currently immersed in, and Alec’s blog prompt for the week which asks us to consider our daily routine of “reading” news could not have come at a better time.
Today is the day I stop trusting everything that I read.
Before I get in to all of the ways my peers in this course convinced me to trust less in what I believe to be real news, let’s take a look at what the typical day looks like for me in terms of information gathering.
Prior to giving up Facebook, my day would typically start with waking up and scrolling through Facebook for information. This would include interesting “news” that my friends shared on their pages, or liked. Without this form of social media in my life, I’ve now turned to Twitter for my morning fix of information, which, according to what I learned in Carter’s content catalyst about the likelihood of fake news being shared on Twitter, I am now quite skeptical about.
Then, on my drive to work, I listen to our local radio station in order to keep up to date on current events and important news information occurring since I listened to the radio on the way home from work (usually less than 12 hours earlier). At work, I usually validate student information/news which I may be skeptical about by verifying it with another student or staff member, or, by reaching out and asking what I call the Good Old Google Machine for assistance.
Charts, infographics, live video on news sites, Tweets from famous people, government officials, or those of authority were never questionable sources of information in my eyes.
My downright shock at the facts surrounding fake news (ironic statement, I know) made this week’s reading content, catalyst content videos, and this blog post one of the most insightful experiences that I’ve had in this course. Mostly because prior to this week’s content, to answer Alec’s question about what my routine looked like on a daily basis to in terms of verifying information: There wasn’t one. If I thought it was true, it was.
I want to mention something that Logan mentions in his content catalyst presentation, which completely problematizes the way I was screening information that I assumed was coming from credible sources. As Logan advises, when we are reading information, “if it reinforces what you believe, you need to be even more aware of the potential biases and misinformation present in the content” (Logan Petlak). Point well taken, Logan! It’s time I started questioning pieces of information that I, traditionally, would have been overly accepting of because of personal bias.
So, if I wasn’t taking the necessary steps in the past, what can I do now to ensure that what I am filling my brain with, and what I share on social media, is in fact real news? Well, it’s now clear that my own sense of information literacy needs some significant improvement. As Regan mentions in her content catalyst presentation, “Information literacy is about critically examining information and sources, truth vs. fiction, fact vs. opinion…” and in addition to doing this, I also need to make sure that I am taking her advice in “developing a mindset that encourages us not to see what we see online at face value” (Regan Williams). The first way to develop this mindset is to be conscious that a change needs to occur, and believe me, after some of the scary facts shared this week, I am now aware!
As shared by Jaimie and Jocelyn this week, there are easy ways to spot fake news that can be helpful for people of all ages. The tips that I would take most seriously off of this list include checking my bias and reading beyond since in the past, I considered the source far too much!
As Stoffers mentions in his article titled “Fake news fools millions”, “Many hoax stories are obviously untrue, but some contain partial truths or distortions of fact that make the falsehoods harder to spot” (Stoffers, 2017) which is just another reason for each and every one of us to question the information that we see presented to us, especially by sources that we traditionally view as being credible.
I know, that after this week’s topic, I will certainly be more critical of the information presented to me before assuming that what I see is true.