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The Lookout | September 22, 2019

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Social media to blame for ‘fake news’

Social media to blame for ‘fake news’
  • On March 29, 2018

By Sarah Barney
A & E Editor

“American teenager who killed Muslim refugee for raping his 7-year-old sister sentenced to 30 years in prison!” claimed the headline above a viral video on Facebook recently.

The video, which at one point had over 10 million views and 260,000 shares, was a complete fabrication.

The alleged American teenager was actually Dylan Schumaker who, in 2014, was convicted for beating a toddler to death.

The video was so lazily put together that one of the photos even included a phrase from Schumaker: “I’m a 16-year-old blond. Probably all I have to do is cry, and they’re going to feel sorry for me.”

I often see scrutiny for CNN or other news organizations over mistakes or information viewed as biased. However, no amount of fake stories on Facebook stops people from sharing them and believing them.

In 2016, a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for BuzzFeed News found that fake news headlines fooled American adults 75 percent of the time.

The same study also found that those who use Facebook as a major source of news are more likely to view fake news headlines as accurate.

Social media, not CNN, is probably the largest proprietor of “fake news.”

It is my opinion that if someone is going to complain about fake news, they should be extra responsible about making sure they are not spreading it themselves.

Checking the validity of a photo or video on Facebook isn’t difficult, but I think sometimes people don’t want to check because they want it to be true.

I just wish people would take the minute or two it takes to check if something is legitimate. There are even websites such as Snopes that debunk common false stories.

Fake stories or false facts shape opinions and mislead people, which makes it harder to talk about ideas or opinions.

If people were more critical of the information they ingest, I believe it would be a lot easier to have productive conversations about politics.

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