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Our opinion: In the age of digital, be aware of the fake

It’s been said over and over again, but with the campaign season in full swing it’s worth another reminder: not everything on social media is true, no matter how much you wish it so.

Like all things, social media has made it incredibly easy to post fake or misleading news or videos. Slightly altered photos and video edited to highlight a specific phrase that can then be easily taken out of context are just two of the ways  fake stories are spread online.

Over recent years, this kind of junk news has become more and more prevalent, saturating our feeds in an attempt to sway us one way or another and unfortunately many are willing to share on headlines alone.

It falls on all of us to take the initiative to fact check these items before sharing. Facebook and Twitter have both taken steps to try to stem the tide of actual fake news, including flagging posts that are false; however, it seems that may not be enough.

In an April story by POLITICO, it was reported, “the campaign group Avaaz discovered that over 40 percent of the coronavirus-related misinformation it found on Facebook — which had already been debunked by fact-checking organizations working with the tech giant — remained on the platform despite the company being told by these organizations that the social media posts were false.”

Both Facebook and Twitter’s flagging of false posts has helped, but more needs to be done and that’s where we all come in, especially in light of knowing that Facebook still hesitates to take extra steps, saying it will not flag more politically motivated content that oftentimes has been shared by people, including President Trump.

Pay attention to the source. Stories that have no author or news sites that don’t offer any information on staff or location are red flags. If there is an author, but something seems off, do a search and check the author. In fact, go the extra mile and check anyway.

There is more than just the headline. As we have stated, oftentimes, people will share based on the headline alone, especially if it bolsters something that is passionately felt. Read further and do your own research.

There are plenty of more ways to check what’s being passed off as news and we invite you to visit www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/ to learn more on how you can spot false claims and stories.

We all feel passionate about something or another, and if we want to support it properly, we need to be aware of what the truth is and not what we perceive it to be.