Avoiding Misinformation on Social Media

Whether we realize it or not, we have all been misled on social media. These platforms serve us a steady diet of fake news, misleading content, and deep fakes, but where we are most susceptible is not where we would expect it. It is not the posts from people we consider opponents to our views that are the greatest risk; the most significant threat comes from those we believe are friends to our beliefs.

It is when our guard is down that we are most likely to be deceived. When a post comes through our feed which counters our narrative, we scrutinize it thoroughly. We check the source, we examine the logic, and we make our determination whether the information is trustworthy. From there, we mentally formulate counter-arguments if we do not like the conclusion drawn from the data. We rarely do that with narratives that support our cause because we want them to be true.

For example, in conservative circles, the Babylon Bee is well known as a satire site. When we see one of their clever headlines, we laugh because we know it is a joke, and if someone did not realize it was satire, it would only take about a minute on the site to find out. In liberal circles, the bee is not as well known, and often, when they post something that liberals would like, it is likely to be shared as if it is real.

Earlier this week, the Bee posted an article that claimed NBA players were going to wear lacey collars to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The post picked up steam quickly as multiple liberals celebrated it. There were even some blue checkmark folks who joined in. The amazing thing is that they failed to do the one minute of research needed to keep them from their error. Below are a few screen grabs of people who shared it as real, and theses posts could go on and on.

Some people may laugh at the “silly liberals,” but conservatives do the same thing. I have seen several Babylon Bee articles float through my feed which where posted by conservatives as valid information. They fell for it because they wanted it to be true. The Babylon Bee is the most innocuous because they do not hide what they are doing. The real problem comes from those sources who do not.

This example should serve as a warning to all of us; regardless of which side of the aisle we are on. We form our opinions of others and determine our actions based on what we believe is true. How much has has our failure to do our due diligence contributed to the polarization of our society? The truth matters, and we must diligently seek it out. On social media, the information we need to examine the most carefully is the information with which we want to agree.

-D. Eaton

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