Don’t believe everything you read online

Misinformation runs rampant on social media


Johanna Kaplan

As we continue to talk more and more about controversial issues — such as politics, mental health and any of the world’s wide array of disputed topics — social media has become a quick and easy way for many people to see and learn about what’s going on in the world.

There are benefits to spreading news on your socials, but also dangers, such as spreading false information. I have seen posts about various topics that are painfully biased or that contain fabricated information. Sharing these posts can allow lots of people to take in biased or false information, impacting their future decisions. 

Researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management found that on Twitter, false news is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true information

It’s important to keep your guard up when on social media; don’t buy into everything you’re reading and do additional research if you want to learn the full story. And if you are going to share something, double-check for accuracy and credibility. 

Most forms of social media, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter don’t outright ban false information — posts spreading misinformation or false claims won’t likely be flagged or taken down.

It is important to note that this all varies depending on the type of false information. When it comes to political and social matters, social networks don’t tend to interfere. On the other hand, manipulated footage is prohibited and sites are supposed to monitor this. 

Although sites mostly use artificial intelligence to monitor posts, not real people, so the margin for error is large. For this reason, it’s not fair to suggest ramping up efforts on behalf of the social media companies. The sheer amount of posts they have to monitor makes it near impossible to get real people to do all the work. 

What I suggest is for those of us on social media to be extra cautious. Please don’t use Instagram as a main source of news, and if you must, then make sure you aren’t reading fabricated information.