Winter is coming

You hear it everywhere nowadays. It’s on your phones. It’s married to your television. The mainstream media all but barfs when it comes about. It has even gotten to the point where the President himself announced a war on it. 

If you guessed fake news, congratulations!

http://giphy.com/gifs/sporzaredactie-3o6gE6muVWPM2OyOsw

Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Now that you’ve done that, listen carefully because there isn’t much time. 

It seems to me that this current epidemic of “fake news” has taken on a more sarcastic connotation as of late. Due in large part to President Trump’s recent assertion that anything negatively associated with his name constitutes as fake news, social media and society at large has begun embracing fake news as a universal joke.

Seriously, the President said this.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/828574430800539648

Unfortunately, it’s not that funny. In fact, laughing at the matter is almost on an equal playing field as contributing to the problem.

Fake news is something that isn’t as fake as we like to make it out to be. It’s real. It’s present. And, it already has you believing.

The biggest issue with fake news is that most people can’t quite decipher what functions as fake news. Even worse, the current demographic most susceptible to fake news happens to be students. Great! The backbone of our future can’t tell its right from its left. 

http://giphy.com/gifs/veep-xT8qB8m7xTrZcggsEw

While there is reason for discouragement, there is also a fair amount of reason for optimism. According to NPR Digital News Expert Wynne Davis, identifying fake news is rather easy once you know how to do it.

Davis reveals six methods of pinpointing fraudulent media.

  1. Be cognizant of the URL ending

  2. Read the “About Us” section to identify potential bias

  3. Check to see if there are direct quotes from sources

  4. Check to see if the quotes are reflected by relevant voices

  5. Read the comments/reactions to the story

  6. Check to see where any photos associated with the story came from

But even still, do we really have enough time to do all of this? For some people, sure. But for others, probably not. Fortunately, we have technologically to help us during this dire predicament, such as Slate’s Chrome browser extension “This is Fake” which helps to flag stories that have been identified as faulty. The Washington Post has also stepped up the plate with its new tool designed to fact check every one of the President’s tweets.

So while it’s a scary time for our First Amendment,

http://giphy.com/gifs/thesimpsons-3o6Mbo7FAhJY5cGWs0

let’s not forget that we are a mentally capable audience. Take advantage of your brain. Do a background check. Don’t allow yourself to get snowed online.

My third grade teacher Mrs. Lawrence (shoutout Jefferson Elementary) once told me “don’t believe everything you hear.”

I suggest you do the same. Our country needs you.

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