TikTok has become one of the fastest growing and most accessible news sources for young adults—only a close second to Instagram. The majority of young adults get their news exclusively from social media, as it is the most convenient way for them to be connected and informed. Because of how quickly news spreads, especially on social media platforms, it’s very important to be aware of fake news and to be able to spot when news is fake.
It seems like a journey in vain to try and change the way we consume news. But one thing we can do is to learn how to become aware of and spot misinformation on these social media platforms. So here are some things you can keep in mind when you’re browsing and come across news whose validity you’re not sure of.
Use common sense
When you’re consuming any news on the internet, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re mindlessly taking the information in or if you’re using your critical thinking skills. We can all use analytical thinking and sense when something feels off or incorrect.
If that is the case, always trust your instinct and double check the news before sharing it with others.
Make sure you’re aware of your biases
It’s no secret that social media fosters an environment where users’ preexisting views and opinions are reinforced. This is what we call an online echo chamber. This environment is created by algorithms that are set up to feed us what will get the strongest emotional responses and filter out the others.
This is a brilliant strategy to increase interaction, but it also distorts our perception. You’re generally not going to be critical if something already fits the way you think or your general worldview.
Always check your source
Figuring out whether the person or account who posted a piece of news is reliable is not an easy job, especially with the current state of the internet, where post irony and memes are a legitimate form of communication. We’ve all witnessed sarcastic TikTok or Twitter users make jokes that people don’t get, leading to a string of angry responses that completely miss the point.
While figuring this out can be hard, content circulating on the internet without original context can be mistaken for real information. A good tip is to always do your own research, and look at accounts that are verified. They are less likely to be trolls.
So in this wave of being perpetually online, here’s what digital self-care looks like.
Photo via Kiichiro Sato/AP