Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Adult Assembly Required: Fake News

The term Fake News isn't real!

Surprised? Probably not, as we have been bombarded with the term Fake News as an action verb since the election of Donald Trump, in an effort to label news stories that are created in an effort to mislead.

The term has garnered so much traction in both regular and social media outlets, that people are even considering it as a tool that was used by the Russian government, in an effort to affect the recent American election.

I recently received a notification on my Facebook, updating me on new tools and initiatives that will identify and remove Fake News from my feed.

When I went to Google to do some searching, I was further updated that even Google is now implementing tools to combat Fake News as well.

While these initiatives may seem to be working in a positive manner to assist the common person, the reality of the situation is that we must be questioning these fact checking tools as much as we do media that we suspect is in fact Fake News.

Why you might ask? 

The simple answer is that by standing by and allowing someone else to fact check and inform us on what is true, we inherently put a lot of power into their hands.

As if it isn't bad enough that we have both Facebook and Google generating profit off of our daily social media and online activities, we are now allowing them to tell us what is true and was is not true.

This is the type of scenario that in the past would have regular media outlets questioned, as it becomes easy for information to be manipulated and thus further misleading.

Furthermore, Fake News isn't an accurate label in my personal opinion. What did we do before all of these people began labeling news as fake?

 It isn't a surprise that information has been made public in the past that was meant to either mislead or scare the general public.

Actual footage of Donald Trump driving to work. (Confirmed Real)

The difference between now and in the past is that people did much of the fact checking themselves or could rely on independent journalism that actually investigated the news stories first hand in order to expose information to the public, not to mention independent research conducted to provide official findings on certain subjects.

In today's modern world, we unfortunately cannot rely on journalism or unbiased research.

With companies becoming acquired by larger conglomerates, we essentially have billionaires owning and sometimes dismantling independent media, in an effort to increase profit and cut costs.

Where fake news becomes an issue now is that it is a response to a problem that was general created by social media.

While independent media may no longer thrive in the traditional sense, many people have gone online to continue conversations about the main topics.

Add in a fast network that reaches the entire world instantly and you can imagine the damage that can be created with false information and an intent to create hysteria.

What is also different however, is that people can not fact check on their own much easier than in the past.

We have search tools and online data available to determine what may be actual news that makes sense and what may be complete bullshit created by some kid in a basement.

The important focus on Fake News, is that we cannot allow this term as an excuse not to be informed. far too many people no longer take the time to pay attention to what happens around them and as a result become reactionary to current affairs.

 If we have someone who wishes to take advantage of people, what better way then to control the very tools that they now trust to tell them what is real and what isn't?

I have posted in the past regarding how social media has changed how we conduct politics.

No longer can a candidate run without some documented history on the internet, which provides transparency for the public and ammunition for adversaries.

The issue once again has been that many people just do not care to do the research, so they either put full trust into the words of others or remain uninformed, which is worse!

I want to leave you today with the advice to always remain vigilant with information and never be afraid to continue questioning anything.

We learn best when we question and with social media and the internet, we have the tools today to do just that. We just need to make the time and have a desire to actually care.

 Failure to do so not only erodes the quality of the information we intake, but also puts out Democracy and individual freedom at risk.

As an example, Many Americans hold the second amendment to heart for their freedom, they don't realize that their access to good information and vigilance in questioning that information does more to protect their freedom than any gun could ever do. 

Until Next Time!

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