By: Yumia Hobbs
Millennials and people who frequent social networks may be the most aware as far as understanding the real impact of social media, but after Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidential election, the older generations became a lot more convinced.
Immediately after the presidential election everyone who was displeased with the result hurried to find anyone and anything to blame. It seems that first up was the registered voters that didn’t actually exercise their right to vote, then it was white women, then it was millennials, but the final culprit that seems to be agreed upon by disgruntled liberals is Facebook. During the election, there was no way you could scroll down your Facebook newsfeed without coming across a fake news story regarding either one of the presidential candidates or an asinine hoax- one even claiming that Trump had dropped dead on stage due to a massive heart attack while campaigning. One of the first sites to bust the hoax was rumor debunking site Snopes.com. by saying, “what has possibly died is any last sense of decency in the click-baiting world of fake news.”
Although millennials seem to be the most aware about the impact of social media, they also seem to be the most oblivious to the news stories that are actually phony. NPR addressed this issue last week saying, “Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected. In exercise after exercise, the researchers were “shocked” — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.”
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, considers the accusations about Facebook laying a part in the election “crazy,” but Fortune broke down exactly why Facebook may be to blame. Joshua Benton, head of the Nieman Journalism Lab, described in a recent essay how residents of the small Louisiana town he was raised in posted and re-posted hoaxes and false news reports about Hillary Clinton and other topics on Facebook. Said Benton:
“There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the list of actors has to start with Facebook. And for all its wonders—reaching nearly 2 billion people each month, driving more traffic and attention to news than anything else on earth—it’s also become a single point of failure for civic information,” stated the feature on Fortune.com.
Even though Mark Zuckerberg would like to think Facebook made no impact in the election, I think we can all agree that it’s inevitable for Facebook to not have a hand in much of anything these days. One thing we all must do is be more diligent in fact-checking and thinking logically when reading anything on social media because as we’ve been shown, it does make a difference.