The Internet: Manipulated We Have Become

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The Internet. It is the home of social media, dub famous of them all are the top four: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. But it is also home to the famous “fake news” that recently has come and inhibited the place to attract fellow young readers to read their stories, giving them a sense of superiority of knowing something that hasn’t gone out to the world, yet now there it is in front of their eyes, and they can go and spread it to the rest of their friends. And soon, like wildfire, it’ll continue to spread around.

But that’s news, isn’t it? The news is meant to be shared. But what saddens this generation, or rather, the previous generation is that the future inheritors of the upcoming years are being manipulated and controlled by the news, and are thus not able to determine whether they are real or fake.

And before one could even say something, no it’s not just high schoolers. Studies have shown that Stanford students even had a difficult time to distinguish the given presented news to them to investigate, just from looking, that what the caption and picture were, and dubbed news, was fake or not. And the results were shocking.

Sam Wineburg was a professor at Stanford University who conducted this experiment of presenting a Twitter post about nuclear plants and how they have affected daisies, aberrating them to some delusive weird shape.

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He then presented a question, and quoted, “Does this photograph provide proof that the kind of nuclear disaster caused these aberrations in nature?” And shockingly, 80% had a difficult time determining a settled question for that or for some facts to support as to whether the answer was yes or no. Sam added that they didn’t even ask where it came from, the original source that is, nor asked for further evaluation. The conclusion was that they all accepted the picture as a fact.

“They didn’t ask where it came from. They didn’t verify it. They simply accepted the picture as fact.” -Sam Wineburg, professor of education and history at Stanford University.

Another experiment conducted targeted the high schoolers who were then presented with two Donald Trump posts, one from Fox News granted Certified at Twitter (the blue check marks) and the other that looked exactly like Fox News. A research was found that 30% of the students argued that the fake news was actually real than the real news. And lastly, one that I found the most ridonculous was this.

MoveOn.org is a certified (blue check) on twitter that spread the news about gun owners. It’s been said that less than third of the students actually believed the post to be truth rather than fake. It was understandable I guess if for most people who are not familiar with Twitter and its Certified check symbol were believable or not. But it’s just, overall, common sense. It’s all about common sense and taking a second to think about it rather than jump to an immediate answer.

The internet has become a lure to all ages. It’s true. Like my teacher said, he took a survey in our class and asked us how many students here actually get newspaper delivered to their homes and only seven out of thirty something kids raised their hands. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. Everyone in our household go online to see the latest news because it was there for our own convenience.

I was aware of the fact that there had been fake news going on in the media, trying to lure people with clickbait. I would admit I had been one of them. But that just shows how sad it was that most of us in this generation were not able to tell what was fake news and what was real news. And we’ve become absorbed in the fact that news, all news, is real that in the end, we’re just being manipulated by the word “news”.

To further add onto that, school never taught us this. This lesson of being able to tell which source is credible and which is not. But that’s not an excuse. School doesn’t have to teach us about common sense. It’s just embedded within ourselves to have common sense. One can’t just look at a site and believe whatever is on there. If there’s even a tiny part in your brain that went like, “Wait really? Is that true?” Then go to a credible news source you know and ask that question there or research deeper into it.

Okay maybe school did have a part on this. And it’s called English and it’s been a practice we’ve been doing since middle school. Finding evidence. How else were we able to back up our essays to present something not only fundamentally educational but also entertaining? Just put something there because we saw it online on a post? No! It’s about digging deeper. And I believe, even though we’re still doing that, it’s so sad how we gained nothing from it.

Obviously our generation needs more practice.

 

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