The spreading of false news and social media

We are stimulated with news from all around the world at every moment of the day. From email newsletters to social media, blaring headlines are inescapable. It is an all-consuming production of endless political drama and tragedy. 

With so much content coming at us every single day, it becomes difficult to discern what is beneficial and edifying. Even more so, it is difficult to identify what is credible and reliable. Anyone with only the slightest grasp on technology can create a web page, write an article and share a social media post.

The topic of fake news is nothing new. Someone’s Uncle Steve has been passionately posting the most outlandishly fake news stories on Facebook for as long as there has been a share button. Gen Z prides itself on being the tech-savvy generation, not privy to the Facebook spam and ancient memes, which befall our parents and older coworkers.

But we are not as immune as we might believe. Our circulated fake news looks less like bad Photoshop jobs and bot spam comments and more like informational TikToks from uncredible sources and divisive posts from Instagram influencers.

Gen Z looks to their influencers and peers for news, information and opinions, regardless of whether or not any of them hold any kind of subject-matter expertise. Anyone with a smartphone can create a TikTok and make virtually any claim whatsoever, and it could go viral. And if a video has three million views, it must be true, right? 

In 2020, Stanford conducted a study on an undergraduate class to show how many college students struggle with accidentally spreading disinformation. The study found that two-thirds of the tested students trusted a satirical headline, and most students immediately trusted a website based on its looks and not the actual information.

We are college students living in 2023. We should not have to still be discussing how to evaluate online sources for reliability. I know your school librarians went over this in sixth grade.

And yet, there are still so many of us who are inept at discerning the truth in our social media feeds. There is great danger in that.

As Christians, we are people of the truth. The world is being blinded by lies. We must operate out of the Word of God and stand upon what we know to be true.

When sharing anything online, we need to be certain of its honesty and integrity. Sharing fake news unknowingly is ultimately a sin of carelessness, for which we will be held accountable. Knowingly sharing fake news is another sin entirely — sinister deception.

A piece of news that you have to question is probably not one worth sharing. Do your due diligence and research information’s accuracy. There is a wealth of reliable and credible news sources out there. Utilize them.

Do not enable the spreading of false, misleading or otherwise harmful information due to your laziness in fact-checking. Fake news divides, polarizes and disengages. These actions do not imitate the character of Jesus.

Let’s combat the slander, lies and rumors that circulate our newsfeeds. Let’s practice wisdom and restraint when sharing things on social media. Let’s be slower to post and quicker to consult a variety of sources.

We cannot emulate Christ, the Truth, if we are flippant with what we call true. If we are not people of truth, then what are we?  

Ginion is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion

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