Netflix hit movie, The Social Dilemma pointed out all the good that Silicon Valley’s technology has provided for the world, mainly being connections. On the other side of that, it also pointed out the monster it indirectly created: the younger generations’ obsession with comparison and the abundant access to fake information, or misinformation.
These fine-tuned algorithm systems at Google, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, have us in a frenzy – eager for more and more information. They naively force us to believe what’s on our screens is 100 percent accurate. In the film, Tristan Harris and many other former leading engineers discuss how with politics, it seems that the opposing side isn’t seeing the same things we are. And it’s not just an assumption, it’s true – the algorithm is so precise that it picks up on our beliefs, morals and ethics and shows us information that appeases those ideals. The algorithm does this to keep us hooked to content consumption and keep us scrolling (otherwise known as doomscrolling).
As social media obsessed humans, we want to be connected and validated. This has led us to post information without fact checking it ourselves, in order to fit in with everyone else posting information. And since the algorithms are designed to provide us with content that it thinks we would be interested in, it becomes a vicious cycle of news that isn’t necessarily true.
This week more than ever, it is important to be conscious of the information we receive. As the U.S. is on the verge of either voting in a new president or keeping the current one, it is easy to fall in the traps of misinformation.
Remember, you are in control of what you consume. You can decide what sites or headlines to view and how long you spend consuming the news circuit. Of course, this is easier said than done, as many times one search leads us down a rabbit hole with hours of time passing. To help you out a bit, below is how we escape false information:
1. Look deeper
Don’t fall into the trap of immediately believing the first headline you see. Look a little deeper, do a quick Google search and read other headlines. Media is there to spike chaos, more often than not. So be vigilant with the news you believe. And feel free to use our handy fact checking resource.
2. Find the context
Timestamps are crucial. Look at the time that the information was released and fact check. This may sound like it takes longer than it actually does, but it is a very easy matter. Read about the context, make sure quotes aren’t taken out of context, watch the full press statement or interview.
3. Be aware of the dark side of media literacy
Always, always be vigilant when checking the news and realize that too much media consumption can lead to information overload. Take breaks, take care of yourself, and check the news only when you need to.