Crash Course on Social Media Safety

My personal checklist to determine authenticity of information on social media is fairly simple: is the news source verified, is it a name I recognize, and is the link a reliable news source such as The New York Times? My father’s voice still echoes in the back of my head from when the “fake news” scandals on social media began: “Always cross reference, Autumn. If it’s on Facebook check the story on domestic credible sites, and then cross check the story on foreign sites. Then you’ll know you’ve got the real deal.”

To my surprise, I already had a pretty good system going on. Johns Hopkins University has a fantastic checklist to verify information on social media. They suggest looking at the “location of the source, who is in their network,” cross checking content from other sources, the context of the post in relation to previous ones, and the reliability of the source. But their best advice and utmost recommendation is: “if you are unsure whether a social media post is from a person or a bot, do not use the source.”

This past week Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey appeared before the US Senate in order to address what can be done to prevent inauthentic material on their platforms. Sandberg stated that Facebook is partnering “with third-party fact-checking organizations to limit the spread of” false information.

Dorsey followed up that Twitter will also be taking steps to prevent inauthentic material and accounts from spreading false information by suspension of malicious foreign accounts.

Will Twitter and Facebook be true to their word?

We’ll just have to wait and see…

3 thoughts on “Crash Course on Social Media Safety

  1. Your system for checking whether a news article is reliable is almost identical to the way in which I determine authenticity. Cross-referencing is so important because you do not want to be fed false information and later find out you were passing on inaccurate news. I like how you started with a personal connection, because it shines a light on how fake news permeates everybody’s life. I agree with the advice Johns Hopkins gives. It reminds me of a grammar rule about commas, which is “when in doubt leave it out.” They stress if you have any doubt about the authenticity of the news being shared to simply move on to a site that you trust. I also appreciate how you included Twitter, because fake news is not solely a Facebook issue.

  2. I thought this was an informative, smart article that really tucks into the fact that it is up to us-the users and consumers of media-to make sure that we are being responsible in our media consumption. Due to the plague of untrustworthiness and uncertainty in the media during the current climate, it is important that every person questions the validity of the source of information that they choose to use. The tweets you included show that the social platforms themselves are also taking action to encourage more trustworthy media consumption methods, but I appreciated that you acknowledged that is it ultimately up to the consumer to make an effort to search for the truth and credibility of a source or story.

  3. I like how the post started with a personal anecdote. I relate to the story of your Dad always telling you to “cross-reference” because it has been ingrained in our generation to only use reputable sources and to not use Wikipedia. Little did our teachers know what would come from the recent surge in technology capabilities. Because of it, fake news is becoming harder to decipher. I also appreciates, the tweets and background you provided before you embedded them.

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