‘Everybody’s a star’ thinking breeds fake news

Welcome to the modern era in which social media has made us all some sort of experts.

First, Facebook made us all professional photographers, and later graphic designers, with those ridiculously edited photos. Of course, Twitter cleared the path and made many people social activists. Everybody has become all riled up for some cause, and don’t you dare go against the new ‘norm’; they’ll tweet you into condemnation.

Later, Instagram created way too many models – many who are yet to even do a professional photo shoot (but we are not here to judge). Of course, we can’t not mention the hundreds that proudly have make-up artist listed in their bio and are unable to even correctly choose their own make-up foundation.

 But that’s not all social media has done. It has given a much undeserved rise to ‘fake news’. The term fake news refers to “the deliberate spread of misinformation, via traditional or social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically”. Fake news doesn’t mean that the content doesn’t favour your personal opinion, neither does it mean that one news outlet says something that you don’t like, because we must admit that, in the past, traditional outlets — the trusted ones — have failed us.

However, social media and citizen journalism allow everyone to believe that they are journalists and, in the quick age, they end up posting flawed information. The reality is that the digital age fosters fake news. However, it can be avoided. We can avoid the click bait.

We need to ask ourselves whom is the fake news really benefiting?

For example, the young woman who lied about her ex on Facebook, and was recently charged, what was her goal? Whom was she giving an opportunity to benefit? Whom is the fake news benefiting?

It surely benefits the advertising companies, with all those click baits. Advertising companies only care about the clicks. After all, they’re here making money. But to what dire extent? Consumers of news, who say that they care about news, should take the extra second to look. Open your eyes and look! If you wasted the time to read fake news, don’t waste time and share it. The flooding of the Bog Walk Gorge is an all too familiar instance of fake news making the rounds. As soon as it begins to rain, some idle individual takes the opportunity to dig for the old photo and then create panic. We have this really distasteful way of restoring the dead to life on social media with our fake trends. Recently, we saw where a man who has been dead for about two years was allegedly kidnapping young girls in Jamaica. Imagine how hurtful this was to the already grieving family.

A last brain-teaser for contemplation: Have you ever stopped to think about the origin of fake news? Fake news hurts us all. It slows the actual response time of the security forces as well as it creates chaos in our already chaotic society.

Let’s commit to using social media responsibly. If you are in doubt, just leave it out. Stop sharing what you can’t verify.

*Published on February 23,2017 in the Jamaica Observer


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