How do we know that the news we read on social media is accurate? Who can we trust and who is posting honestly? There are some scary statistics about that young people are getting the majority of their news from social media. They don’t watch the TV or listen to radio news, they don’t read newspapers, instead they trust their friends and those they follow to keep them in touch with the world.
As a former journalist I find this a scary thought. I trained and studied so that I could perform the role. I had to know media law, local government and public affairs as well as adhere to the code of ethics. When someone had a problem with what I had written they could complain either to the newspaper or the Press Complaints Commission. In short there were checks and balances and it meant that what got printed in the newspaper had to be accurate. Not so on social media.
Anyone can write anything. That is part of what I love about social networks as it allows people to be in more control of what happens. They can contact brands and businesses direct and all that should mean we have more accurate information. But for as many good things that it brings there are problems. If people want to deliberately misrepresent or spread inaccurate information then they are now more able to do it. This was an interesting discussion subject for tonight’s #smxchat on Twitter.
The key has to be what we do to tackle the problem of fake news. After all I am sure most of us would not want to be without the digital developments and the benefits they bring. It means we have to start to be more aware of what news is and where to find it. Education is critical so that young people are able to question what they read and don’t just accept it. We need to ensure that we all avoid circulating fake news and where we can we challenge inaccuracies and lies. Above all we need to have our eyes open.