In the wake of ex-Facebook employee and federal whistleblower Frances Haugen revelations on social media algorithms on CBS ‘ “60 minutes” and following testimony At the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, the importance of Internet media literacy was emphasized.
Company documents presented by Haguen indicate how Facebook knowingly exposes its users to disinformation but does not use the tools at its disposal to stop them.
In an increasingly polarized and chaotic media environment, students need to be sufficiently prepared to discern fact from fiction when consuming news, especially on the Internet.
Despite the prevailing rhetoric that journalism is in decline, the number of digital broadcasts has risen sharply in recent years, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Although it is well known that the circulation of print editions of newspapers is in decline, these changes simply reflect a shift from the traditional newspaper format to a more dynamic digital format.
Gathering information from a multitude of internet sources is nothing new to students my age, as apps like Instagram and Twitter have been online news beacons since the early 2010s.
According to a Pew Research Poll, 86% of Americans say they often receive information on the Internet.
Connor Quinn, a junior in aerospace engineering, said he collects all of his news on Snapchat just for convenience.
Never before has such a wealth of information been so readily available.
The challenge presented to both the media and consumers is to distinguish between objective truths and misleading disinformation, which has become an epidemic online. As far as current academics and future leaders are concerned, it is imperative that today’s students are skilled in seeking and reaching for the truth to better understand the world.
In a maintenance with Scott Pelley of CBS, Haguen said “[Facebook] knows it accelerates hatred, political unrest, misinformation, mental health issues and other issues, but has failed to address them if it means hampering its own growth.
Facebook and other social media agencies have no obligation to the truth, as dialogue that divides users has been found to promote engagement.
The online division sown by bad actors is not a new concept. it was good documented how online trolls influenced specific voting blocs with misinformation on Facebook ahead of the 2016 election.
Misinformation, internet trolls and flawed algorithms won’t go away overnight – as we know social media companies profit from vitriolic and controversial content – which means students need to be prepared to filter through it. online news slog to find transparent and objective journalism.
According to Harvard Graduate School of Education, students have a broader definition of news, which means they view YouTube videos, comedy skits, political memes, and Reddit threads as accurate sources of information. With more information available to students than other parts of the population, it is even more essential for students to be able to discern what is true online.
There are many strategies students should adopt when evaluating their social media feeds for news and information.
According to digital content creator Grace Tatter, “When students consume information, they need to think about how they are going to cross it with other sources, consider what context is missing, and assess the source.”
In today’s media environment, everything must be viewed with skepticism.
Essentially, critical analysis of current affairs requires constant questioning.
The University of Minnesota Library gathered the opinions of media literacy professionals and describe the following questions to ask yourself when consuming media: Who created the message? What are the author’s references? Why was the message created? How do you know if this information is correct? What is the expected audience?
Media content is ubiquitous, which is why students must be constantly prepared to critically examine what they read or watch online. This includes checking the facts, reviewing the background and credentials of the media company or reporter, and reading multiple articles on the same issue.
Media literacy enables students to sort through the internet’s data cloud, locate reliable sources, and identify bias and unreliable sources.
As stated in the book “Understanding Media Culture”, mass communication messages are developed by individuals, and each individual has their own set of values, assumptions and opinions. Accepting media messages at face value can be confusing due to all the conflicting information available.
We have the tools to search for reliable and credible information and in our digitized world, it is imperative that we use them.
It is our responsibility to seek the truth now more than ever.
Willem Quigley is a junior journalism student. Follow him on Twitter @ willquigz11.