Well, information and social media learning about the world around us. It’s something we all want to engage in, but are we advancing a fake narrative or fake information about what’s going on in the world?
Joining us to talk about this tonight is our good friend from Drury University. Professor of Communication Jonathan Groves.
Dr. Groves, thank you so much for being here, and we wanted to ask an expert such as yourself about the fake news phenomena and people doing things like they do every day, which is to share information on social media and current events.
You and I were talking right before the interview. Folks may actually be unwittingly adding to potential problems with information, correct?
GROVES: Right, and basically what I try to do is I actually have started telling people to avoid the phrase “fake news” altogether because it’s a bit vague and it’s been around for a while and I don’t know that it adds to the conversation, because, really, what we want to look at is the building layers of misinformation and disinformation that is currently in the media ecosystem. And what we have to do as individuals is become better observers and users of media, more alert, more literate and understanding what are the messages that are coming to us, and, more importantly, what are the messages that we are sending and sharing and allowing to amplify in our social media change?
BRIAN: Ok, so specifically about social media, what should folks be thinking about when they’re going through, let’s say on Facebook? They’re scrolling through their news feed (everybody does this for the most part on a regular basis). If they’re about to share something, what should they be thinking about before they press that share arrow?
GROVES: Are they sharing because they’re angry outraged? Is there an emotional reaction to the content that you are considering? If there is, that might be by design. So people are trying to activate your emotions because when we think emotionally we’re not always thinking, rationally, and so we may be sharing things that are incorrect, but they affirm our beliefs so they sound good to us and it makes us feel better about our own ideas. But it may not be right, so we’re actually poisoning the atmosphere because we’re putting inaccurate information out there or putting inaccurate facts into the landscape and we’re actually allowing them to amplify. What’s dangerous about that is when those facts or those “fake facts,” if you will, are out there, it’s hard to correct the misperception once it’s already taken hold. So it’s why you’re almost your own media outlet now for your friends and family and the people in your networks, and you have a responsibility now much as a journalist to say “am I actually sharing something that has value? Am I sharing something that’s actually accurate or information?”
BRIAN: Well, how could somebody who’s not able to go out and research a topic or do interviews I would they be able to tell whether something’s accurate or not in your estimation? What should they do?
GROVES: You have to become adept at becoming your own “fact checker.” Unfortunately, in this landscape, because we’re not only in an environment where mistakes are made, we are in an environment that is moving quickly, so we’re getting information as the sausage is made. Before, we would get stories on our five o’clock newscast, we would get stories from our daily newspaper or from the journalists that had some time to verify and analyze the information and make some sense of it. Now it’s coming at
us 24/7. It’s coming at us through notifications. It’s coming at us through people who are sharing their opinions. It’s coming at us from our friends and family who maybe just have taken a picture on the side of the highway and are sharing that with us. It’s all this hodgepodge of information that’s in our “news feed” and that’s the dangerous atmosphere that were in. That ecosystem is so much more complicated. So what can we do as individuals?
Probably avoid the urge to share. And what I would ask is when you are sharing, think about why you’re sharing something. Because a lot of times we share something because we expect that it will say something about us, and so we feel the urge to share share share share without actually taking the time to look at what is this thing that we’re sharing and what might be the implications of sharing that.
We’re only thinking about it of what does it reflect on us? What does it say about us? How valuable is it going to make us?
BRIAN: And we’re going to continue this conversation as part of our Ozarks Tonight Extra on our Ozarks Tonight page at our website, OzarksFirst.com. KOLR10 News continues after this.