By Deandra Du
Editor in Chief
With the spread of fake news over social networks and cuts to public broadcasting by the current administration, the truth is becoming harder to come by. The next generation must be educated on how to identify unreliable news, or risk living in an information-less culture.
Young adults are entrapped in what Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) education director Andreas Schleicher calls a social media “echo chamber.” They, essentially, are only exposed to ideas on the Internet that reaffirm their own views, making them less inclined to challenge or question different material.
Without being able to distinguish what is true from what is not, young people shut themselves out, losing the capacity to see the world through other perspectives and cultures. Schleicher theorizes that this same mono-culture mentality is the reason individuals, especially teenagers, have been drawn to join jihadist groups.
If a path of absolute social intolerance and polarization is to be thwarted, it is necessary for our generation to hold both ourselves and our constituents accountable for calling out falsified information.
Fortunately, the tools to fight this phenomenon are right at our doorstep. Facebook developed multiple algorithms to combat fake news online, according to the BBC, including an option that puts authentic posts higher up in one’s feed.
Users can flag articles they believe are deliberately false, which are then scrutinized and scored by third-party fact checkers with the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). If the fact checkers tag these stories as false, fewer users will see them on their timeline.
Warnings also appear whenever users try to share posts with a tag stating “Disputed by 3rd Parties.”
In addition, Google’s new product Fact Check identifies whether reports have been checked by other news publications and fact checking organizations. Decodex is a web extension created to inform a browser whenever it has entered an untrustworthy news site.
Yet even with technology on our side, we, the millennials, ultimately need to be the ones who do the research, educate ourselves, and actively weed out news solely created for profit or politics whenever we see it.
“Automated fact checking […] can get up to about 80% accurate,” stated Claire Wardle of journalism non-profit First Draft News. “[But] we are always going to need human eyes at the very end… we want a combination of algorithms and humans experience.”
Coming across sensationalist or misleading posts online is inevitable, and always will be. But we can become known as the generation that stops fake news in its tracks, and puts truth back in its place.
That is real journalism. The fight starts now.