Point Park Globe

Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook

Social media outlet may be misguiding the masses

Written By Jordyn Hronec, Copy Editor

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I’m a firm believer that the internet is a great place, and not the mindless, brain-destroying monster that some people think it to be. I’ve spent many an hour in a relaxed state of bliss, watching pointless YouTube content, posting the perfect selfie on Instagram or haphazardly throwing out whatever pops into my head on Twitter. There’s just one thing out there on the web that I just can’t condone.

And that’s Facebook and all of its pitfalls. Yes, I have a Facebook. Yes, I occasionally use the app. But is it ever a completely enjoyable experience? No, never.

Every time I visit Facebook, I am bombarded with an onslaught of posts from my loved ones and friends that are over the top. I’ve seen tremendous amounts of written out pieces condemning others and discussing what a horrible state our country is in. Nine times out of 10, these posts are so bombastic in their claims that it seems obvious there’s no truth to them. But my Facebook friends fall for them and are sent into an outrage.

Specifically, I saw a post circulating about how ABC wasn’t allowing its news anchors to wear American flag pins on their lapels because it was a symbol of “nationalism,” claiming that this was partially Obama’s fault, somehow. Naturally, Facebook-goers who commented on and shared the post were up in arms about this, but I just couldn’t believe it. A quick Google search warranted the results that no, in fact, ABC did not do this. I also found out that this rumor originated shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, where it ran its course, died for about 15 years, then got dug up again and this time Obama got dragged into it as a scapegoat. We’ve been told since the beginning that nothing ever gets deleted from the internet. The fact that these lies have the power to keep coming back with a vengeance is frightening.

I also saw a hoax discussing how apparently Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were avid supporters of allowing abortions to take place 36 weeks into a pregnancy. This post was coupled with a picture of a healthy baby born at 36 weeks, as it was trying to elicit an emotional response, a response of outrage, from users. And it did. But again, something about the post was seriously off. So I googled it, and once again, it was a fake. And tens of thousands of Americans on Facebook took it at face value.

What disturbs me most about these types of posts, however, is how they’re not addressed with the level of severity that they deserve. Sure, Facebook has made moves recently to crack down on “fake news” – specifically that which is used to incite violence. But it seems that when most people talk about fake news, they discuss it in reference to established news sources who put out fake material. And while this is a problem, I’d argue that posts from any Facebook user that are fake and meant to deceive users need the same treatment.

By allowing just about anyone to post something, spread false information and trick others into thinking something is real, we are creating and perpetuating mob mentality. Fake news posted by an independent user is just as, if not more, dangerous than that posted by an established news source, because there may not be any way to regulate what the individual user decides to post.

And we, as internet users, need to be less quick to hit the share button. If you see a Facebook post that may be sketchy, read it once, twice, three times. Research and see if it’s true, because it very well may not be. Browse carefully.

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