Something seems odd. It feels disparate. Let me walk you through it.
My Observation and Evaluation
I analysed these numbers and wondered how there is a significant 8% rise over just a year as compared to 3% over three years in usage of social media sites as news sources when 88% (64%+24%) of the population feel fake or fabricated news cause confusion. This was perplexing to me. (Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2018). And Barthel, M., Mitchell, A. and Holcomb, J. (2018).)
The number of people accessing the net for reliable information is constantly increasing and requires they be media literate. These are people wishing to expand their learning capabilities but are restricted to the extent of their learning networks. This restriction is in the form of filter bubbles and echo chambers. (FutureLearn. (2018)). One can make conscious efforts to burst the bubbles and break the chambers. They could learn how to spot fake news. (Facebook.com. (2018))
But then why is fake news still trending?
The answer to this has two aspects to it: Expertise Paradox and Motivated Reasoning. (American Psychological Association)
This explains why one can never win an argument with facts and must appeal to the emotions of the opposition. (Curiosity.com. (2018)). This is precisely what news sources online do. They tailor facts and data to polarise populations and propagate seemingly scandalous news.
How to fight fake news?
What we can do to deal with that cognitive bias leading to trending fake news is to change the approach to forming our opinions and arguments. Instead of supporting our arguments by searching for favourably modified statistics, we must consciously make an effort to develop our opinions on the basis of data favouring multiple echo chambers. This ensures that we consistently grow our network by becoming the devil’s advocate.
The contrasting stats on fake news in the beginning have their roots in an issue which doesn’t necessarily have a technical fix. Instead, a cognitive approach might help ensure accuracy and reliability of online information and make our PLNs more effective.
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- Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2018). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. [online] Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/ .
- Barthel, M., Mitchell, A. and Holcomb, J. (2018). Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion. [online] Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/ .
- FutureLearn. (2018). Media Literacy – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303353 .
- Facebook.com. (2018). Tips to Spot False News | Facebook Help Centre | Facebook. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/help/188118808357379?qp_instance_log_data%5Brandomization_seed%5D=1492253759&qp_instance_log_data%5Bos_type%5D=Windows&qp_instance_log_data%5Bbrowser_name%5D=Chrome&qp_instance_log_data%5Bbrowser_ver%5D=56 .
- http://www.apa.org. (2018). Why we believe alternative facts. [online] Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/05/alternative-facts.aspx .
- Curiosity.com. (2018). Motivated Reasoning Is Why You Can’t Win An Argument …. [online] Available at: https://curiosity.com/topics/motivated-reasoning-is-why-you-cant-win-an-argument-using-facts-curiosity/ .