I recently finished reading Michael Miller’s book My Social Media for Seniors. There are some interesting lessons there that merit a much wider audience. Several of the earlier chapters deal with separating fact from fiction online and developing an ability to distinguish among “fake news,” biased news, conspiracy theories, propaganda, opinions, unsubstantiated advertising claims, satire, and outright lies. I must confess I have become incredibly gun-shy about writing satirical blog-pieces (though I have a number of them in mind). I readily admit that I have my own “biases” or cognitive filters that have been shaped by my schooling, by my family, my formal education (Oberlin College, The Ohio State University) and my former occupation as a Professor of Psychology at Carroll University. I listen to NPR; I read the New Yorker and the New York Times. But I also make a conscious effort to be exposed to perspectives different from mine and to think about them, before categorically rejecting them.
Miller’s book identifies interesting Pew Research Center survey research about the most-trusted news outlets. I find their “Trust-to-distrust” ratios an interesting metric and it is of interest to see how judgments of trustworthiness differ among certain self-identified groups. You can find that research here. Here is their full report: Political polarization. Miller offers sound advice in how to tell “real news” from “fake news” and some useful suggestions.
- Consider the source.
- Verify the source with multiple sources.
- Check rumors with Snopes: Here is the link.
- Check with Mediabiascheck.com. Here is the link.
- READ the article carefully and deeply before sharing it. Too often we skim and forward.
- Remove any false news we inadvertently have spread by failing to heed # 5 above.
The author also offers some wise suggestions about “posting etiquette” which alas, too many who post ignore.