Why You Can't Trust The News That Finds You
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Politics and Activism

Why You Can't Trust The News That Finds You

How to Be an Informed Member of Society

Why You Can't Trust The News That Finds You

It is incredibly rare I find an opinion piece I vehemently disagree with, but oh boy did it happen. Recently, The Washington Post published an article titled "You don't need to find the news anymore. It will always find you." It was published in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting and commented on how quickly the information of the tragedy reached our world. That I cannot deny. We were informed of that news through several different mediums very quickly. I can, however, deny that all the news that comes to find you will always be accurate. I've said it before and I'll say it again...

You cannot trust everything you see on the internet that calls itself "news."

Problem 1: Internet cookies. They're a thing. They effect what "finds" you on the internet. If you spend all your time reading articles from MSNBC and talking about them with your friends, I doubt you're going to see a Fox News article suggested to you. If you and your friends are active members of the NRA, you're probably not going to see something seriously promoting gun control unless you go looking for it. And, let's be real, most Americans don't like seeing things they disagree with.

Problem 2: Internet trolls. Sometimes people just like to screw with you. A lot of people believe we can trust every bit of news that finds us, and this makes it remarkably easy for trolls to capitalize on that ignorance. Seeing a ton of people posting something does not mean a ton of people know for a fact that information is real. I have the perfect example. After the Orlando shootings, which happened on June 12, 2016, someone started circulating a photo about a shooting in Kenya. They commented on how this horrific shooting at a university in Kenya was getting ignored while all American media was paying attention to the Orlando shooting. What the photo failed to mention was that the shooting happened in April of 2015. For any person who took the time to look into that, it made sense American media didn't talk about an incident from well over a year prior. I will, however, admit that American media didn't cover the incident in Kenya when it happened. This leads us to...

Problem 3: Bias. Generally speaking, Americans don't care about people that aren't Americans. People with strong political views generally don't like to read anything that could potentially oppose their views. Major American news sources will skew information like nobody's business to try and please their readers or promote the ideas they wish to promote.

Problem 4: We care about a lot of stupid things. Right now we're in the midst of the RNC and DNC. This is a crucial time in the presidential election. We get more information on political platforms and running mates. Instead of clear, balanced news on these things, I find myself digging through seas of offensive memes, ignorant and horrendously rude comments, and articles about what celebrities decided to show up or what people decided to wear. Frankly, it's embarrassing. Sometimes I like to play a game where I look at common news aggregates and guess how many of their "Top Stories" will be entertainment or style articles. Most of the time it's more than what I guess.

How do we stay informed in this ocean of misinformation?

NEVER get your news from only one source.

A lot of the time, people will be looking out for their own interests. The internet and media sources will show you either what they think you want to see or what they want you to see. To be certain you're getting an accurate idea of what's happening in the world, take the time to look in more than one place.

If something doesn't sound real, it probably isn't.

We have a literal world of information at our fingertips. It takes seconds to look up something and try to confirm if it's accurate or not. Seconds. If someone spouts a fact out to you and it's something you've never heard of, Google it. It isn't hard.

99% of the time people make up statistics to sound smarter.

See, I just made that up.

Read news from somewhere outside of America.

If you're worried about American political parties and views influencing American news (which you should be), read the news from somewhere that doesn't have American political parties. Problem solved. BBC news: read it and love it. They're an amazing source.

Understand there is a major difference between fact and opinion.

I know we don't like to think about our time in grade school when this was relevant, but we too often forget it when looking at news. Fact and opinion are not the same thing. We have a lot of news analysts in the US that we refer to as hard-hitting, unbiased reporters. They are analyzing the news. They are presenting it in a way that is dripping with their opinions. Don't forget that.

And lastly...trust no one.

This sounds like a joke, but I think it's the most important rule of thumb. People lie. People leave out important pieces of information. People make things up to screw around or piss people off. Don't consider anything to be a fact until you can prove it is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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