Truly News? The Dangers of false news

“Burger King Worker Hears Cries In The Bathroom, Then Finds Abandoned Baby.” While we are quick to click on an article that sounds as crazy as this, the reality is that it comes from a news source that is not credible. Thousands of people on Facebook share and like this article, putting misleading news into the trending tab and thus changing the perceptions of thousands of people.

This trend of biased and false news has always been a concern, however over many years it has become a more profound issue due to many technological advances. Online news sources are good in that they allow quick and widespread news coverage and allow people to express their opinions publicly. On the other hand, it can also spread inaccurate information onto unmonitored websites such as Facebook. This inaccurate information can generate widespread false beliefs and alter numerous people’s opinions.

An example of how this issue has become more profound is during the 2016 election; many fabricated news articles were spread throughout the internet, particularly on Facebook. Some of the false articles written down by Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Jonathan Lai in his article Fake news? Bias? How colleges teach students not to be duped were “Pope Francis Endorsed Donald Trump, The NYPD was Investigating Bill Clinton For Sex with Underage Girls, and ISIS is Called For Muslims in America to Vote For Hillary Clinton.” These articles may seem silly, however many people read these types of articles everyday and believe them.

To better understand how many students encounter these outrageous articles, a survey conducted in Coleytown Middle School found that 69.2% of students on the 8th grade Tigers team use social media as a news source. This statistic shows that many 8th graders’ views could be changed negatively due to false information on social media.

The popular social media platform, Facebook, has been a big contributor of false information for young students.

A writer for The Hill magazine, Sylvan Lane, states in her recent article Facebook Under Pressure to Stop Fake News, “Facebook is under growing pressure to do something about the fake news stories that are going viral online.” Lane explains that Facebook did not prevent false information from spreading onto their website. Her article also suggests that if Facebook had blocked false news stories, the results of the election might have been altered.

Facebook Logo

Young people are affected by this false news the most. A Writer for Philadelphia Inquirer, Jonathan Lai, states in his article, Fake news? Bias? How colleges teach students not to be duped, “A study released last week by Stanford University found that middle school, high school, and college students struggle to distinguish news articles from native advertising, evaluate the legitimacy of photos on the internet, and parse the reliability of a tweet from an advocacy group.” Lai implies that young people struggle to know if a news source is reliable or unreliable because they are on the internet a lot and see a lot of fake news. When people are young, they develop their beliefs, and false articles can alter those beliefs in a negative way.

However, some students at Coleytown Middle School are becoming aware of the growing problem with false news articles posted on social media platforms.

An eighth grade student at Coleytown Middle School, Liam Gavin, speaks about these news stories and how he believes more students are becoming skeptical of articles published on unreliable websites. Although Liam uses Instagram for some of his news, he relies mostly on the Washington Post-- a credible news source. In an interview, Liam states that students like himself, who are becoming aware of these news articles, “do not pay enough attention to these articles for it to really give them a distorted view of news.”

While Liam and some of his peers are aware of the numerous false news stories published on social media, many other students continue to click on these stories and believe them.

However, students are not the only people who are affected by this trend of false news, as many adults struggle with this issue on a daily basis.

An example of false news affecting adults is the 2016 presidential election. During the election, many invalid articles, stories, and blogs were being spread throughout the internet. An example of this happening was, during the election on the website, Wikileaks, incorrect information was spread about Hillary Clinton’s emails; this made many people support Donald Trump. In this case, false news stories greatly affected the outcome of the presidential election.

Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election

In Conclusion, biased and false news can provide misleading information to the general public, sway opinions of people on social media, and even alter an event as important as the presidential election.

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Created with images by NS Newsflash - "Newspapers B&W (5)" Business Insider Westport Public Schools and Facebook

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