Almost four years ago, I wrote a blog post about academic honesty. I have been thinking about that topic and honesty in general a lot over the past month or so. That led me to thinking about how quick we are to believe the things we read on social media. A bit of a leap, I know, but bear with me.
My thought process:
We are now living in a time when information, of all kinds, is literally at our fingertips. It is so easy to quickly read a Facebook post or tweet without really comprehending what is being said or looking at the source material. I am not talking about the cute cat picture with inspirational quotes or even the pictures of long dead presidents quoting them as having said not to believe everything you read on the internet. I am talking about posts regarding current events that may not be completely accurate.
People, myself included, will read something that they happen to agree with, take it as fact, and repost. This only leads to the spreading of misinformation, which can sometimes be dangerous. I am in no way saying that the intent of the person reposting is to spread misinformation, but I think it is important that we all take a moment to really read and comprehend some of the things we see on social media before reposting. We need more critical thinking.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a post shared from a satirical source that ends up being taken as fact. I have done it myself. I have also seen many posts with completely false information presented as fact. Just last month, I saw a post with a picture from riots in Greece in 2012 stating that it was a picture from election protests this year in the US. That is the type of post that could be dangerous misinformation if spread.
Social media is a great tool, when used appropriately. Students today have grown up with social media as one of the biggest sources for current events. Part of the responsibility of being a teacher is helping your students learn how to process information and think for themselves. What can you do in your classrooms to help your students use critical thinking to navigate information presented on social media and eventually filter though everything to find the “truth”? Leave a comment with your thoughts.