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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Column: Disinformation in the internet age

    With a world of information at your fingertips, who you choose to follow and what organizations you choose to follow can play a key role in shaping your perception of the world.

    In the digital age, the internet has become a staple in the lives of millennials and young adults especially.

    In 2014, the average adult spent 20 hours a week on the internet, a previous study showed them spending an average nine hours a week in 2005.

    Internet usage has apparently doubled as smartphones and tablets have become essentials.

    The internet has transformed our ability to receive information, including how we consume news. These days, most Americans consume news and information through online sources, digital resources and social media. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, the number of Americans consuming news through online resources is nearly double the number consuming print news.

    The rise of social media has further opened the channels through which we receive information.

    With a smartphone in our pocket, checking a news feed is always just a few swipes away. We fill our news feeds with updates from friends, family and now more than ever, our favorite organizations.

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    In recent years, social media has proven to be an online marketplace for information. With a few clicks we can see what friends abroad are doing, what new video has gained short-term fame and, more importantly, what’s happening in the world around us.

    Consumers ages 18 to 34 have fallen in a new generation of news consumption, one that primarily revolves around social media. Following a news organization on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram seems to keep you just a bit wiser as to what’s happening globally.

    According the Pew Research Center’s 2015 study on social media, 65 percent of adults use social networking sites—a 58 percent increase from 2005. Interest and social media has skyrocketed over the last decade.

    While many adults use social media to keep up with updates from friends and to share content, it’s also important to use available resources wisely to keep ourselves up to date.

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    Many people see social media sites as a place for fun or spending down time, but we should also see these sites as a credible channel to receive information.

    Nearly every major organization has at least one, often multiple, social media platforms that its audience can follow.

    A wealth of information means we get to choose what we see on our newsfeed and the responsibility of finding credible, informative sources of information is a responsibility that falls back on the user.

    When users selectively choose to only follow friends, to only follow certain celebrities or news organizations, they’re narrowing their vision of the world.

    The downfall of having more information and selecting channels is that we can completely opt-out of receiving information we don’t know we need.

    It’s important to remember that with the amount of information we can find on the internet, how informed we are of the world is a reflection of our effort toward that end.

    Social media sites can play a huge role in linking us to bigger news stories and better information.

    The more channels we follow, the more we open up our own world, and open ourselves to the information of what’s happening around us.


    Follow Leah Gilchrist on Twitter.


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