Old Goat & New Tricks
During the 2016 election, social media platforms were flooded with arguments from people who wanted to voice their opinions and vote. The older generation and their wisdom and the younger age and their open-mind - media outlets and researchers were all eyes and ears to the spectacle. Digital marketing was creating a king.
According to a study conducted by Science Advances, the average American Facebook user, aged 65 and older, posted seven times as many articles from fake news websites as adults 29 and younger. I cannot disagree.
"And that was true regardless of ideology, education level or political affiliation: Older users just tended to share misinformation more." reported NY Times.
Times Have Changed
According to Media Literacy Now, 14 states require media literacy education in elementary and secondary schools. Several programs have popped up across the nation. One of them is News Literacy Project, which began over 10 years ago. They work with many news outlets, including New York Times.
In a recent test, 8th graders in New York who have been taking a news literacy class were asked to watch videos of the recent bush fires in Australia. One shows an apocalyptic landscape in flames, the other a tourist paradise, giving the overall sense that the continent is safe. Instead of dismissing one as fake and the other one as real, they did what any reasonable mind would do: they asked simple questions and did some digging.
These kids have been studying news literacy and how to spot "fake news" since the 6th grade. They had 2 years worth of guidance of how to better navigate on the open sea of misinformation available for anyone who dwells online. These kids learned how to swim the sea of misinformation. Unfortunately, many adults have not.
Are teens more likely to spot fake news and misinformation online better than young adults? Yesterday morning I was on Facebook, I saw a posting regarding information from a political debate from the night before. The adults, both younger and older, were ready to fire away their intel in hopes of swaying readers of their position. It wasn't even 7am and the information that was floating around the digital sea was already dangerous polluted.
I saw the same posting several different times, from several different people, diverse backgrounds - Ethnicity didn't matter. I did not understand how an obviously untrue posting would gain such popularity within a matter of hours. No reasonable person would even think it was probable - but apparently many were proudly annoucing it as true and as "proof" of something. It just proved to me that 52% of the population were unable to think straight.
As a member of an order were we do not discuss politics or religion, I kept on moving until a good friend of mine posted the same misinformation. I simply put a laughing emoji and a screenshot of the actual numbers from the politicians page regarding tax numbers. No comment saying one candidate this and the other that. I just showed facts and the facts were from a reliable and accurate source - the parties website. It was obvious that the statement above was a typical tactic used by politicians: twist and take out of context.
All the sudden, I was somehow in support of some sort of conspiracy to do away with Democracy and bring to rise socialism. I was shocked. That escalated quickly. I simply scrolled away.
Fallen from Grace
What happened to America? Why are so many people so touchy and sensitive - and ready to attack? Did something change in the mental meals being circulated? Facebook is beginning to resemble a breeding ground of angry pitbulls being fed gunpowder.
“not only teach the journalists of the future, but to prepare the audience of the future,” Professor Schneider
News Feed anyone?