November 15, 2016
After the election of President-Elect Trump, many people were quick to point fingers at various media organizations that may have contributed to the unlikely election. One scapegoat that has popped up is Facebook, the world’s most popular social media website. The Pew Research Center has recently found that 62% of adults get their news from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit, and at least 18% of adults use social media for the sole purpose of seeking out news “often.”More alarming, the study found that 64% of Facebook users get their news from only one source, which means that many people who rely on social media for news are bound to get stuck in an “information bubble” that only reinforces what they already believe to be true.
Image credit: Pew Research Center
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, has already come out against the accusations that Facebook had a major influence on the presidential election. However, anyone who has used Facebook knows that the Newsfeed algorithm tends to set us up with links that we’ll be predisposed to “like.” We follow people who tend to have the same opinions on important topics like politics, civil rights, and equality. We block people who don’t share our views or who espouse ideas that are offensive to us.
The echo chamber effect is one of the reasons why information literacy is so important. “Information literacy” refers to the skills and dispositions that help people identify information needs and evaluate information for reliability, purpose, currency, and authority. In the current political climate, it’s important to hone skills that help you recognize bias in the news. It’s important to be able to recognize the difference between news articles and op-ed pieces on reliable news sources (a skill that Trump has not developed). It’s important find out more about the people writing the news, and looking into the backgrounds of the news sources. It’s important to entertain opposing viewpoints, especially when reading personal blogs or obviously biased writing.
With that in mind, here are some excellent resources to help you find reliable information and evaluate it:
ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news source: https://www.propublica.org/
National Public Radio: http://www.npr.org/
The CRAP Test Song: https://youtu.be/CMaLgec2XWY
Opposing Viewpoints in Context (you will need a password): http://infotrac.galegroup.com/default/crow66694?db=OVIC
Still having trouble finding reliable information? If you need more help, visit the Upper School library or your local public library! Don’t let misinformation win!