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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Facebook doesn’t mean fact

Photo credit: Kristina Judy

The public has taken it upon themselves to create a news source out of none other than their own opinions, and it’s spreading like wildfire because of social media.

Facebook stories that say climate change is a trick pulled on us by the Chinese may sound like an obvious hoax to most. Still, when it comes to politics I am disheartened by how many people mindlessly re-post stories from The Onion.

It’s not by coincidence that a Trump supporter shares propaganda about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, or that people with similar views will believe it.

We have blurred the line of reliable news sources and sketchy blogs on your timeline who are posting their “news” with an ulterior motive.

In our defense, we live in a world where the POTUS is constantly tweeting about increasing our country’s nuclear capability and why Robert Pattinson should dump Kristen Stewart. It is no wonder why people have trouble recognizing fake news. However, it is about time we start doing our part to not blast it all over social networking sites when we’re only half sure what we are actually talking about.

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According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 67 percent of college-aged students say that fake news has caused confusion about basic facts of current events. With a majority of new voters unable to distinguish between fact and fiction, it is easy to explain why there was confusion with the presidential election outcome.

Fake news isn’t a new idea but prior to the web, these stories were published in print media. The problem with it today is that it is easier to spread through our multiple social media platforms that are glued to our fingertips.

The actual social media sites aren’t the problem, it’s the 20 seconds that aren’t being spent to fact check a news source. Rather than focus on being factual, people want to defend their opinions even if it the information isn’t necessarily valid.

Currently, there is no filter that prevents the spreading of these stories on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The only thing we can do until lie detecting software exists is stop the lethal sharing of these stories without fact checking them first.

Nicole Henson can be reached at [email protected] or @TheOrion_News at Twitter.

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