It’s Wednesday morning. Like any other weekday, I hear my alarm going off, scramble through my sheets to find my phone, press snooze, and lay my head down for another five minutes. This happens about two or three more times until I decide I should wake myself up. Mostly because I don’t want to be late for my 10 a.m. but also because I’m probably really annoying my roommate who doesn’t have class until noon and would rather be sleeping in. So, I’m awake, but I’m still tired so I lay in my bed for another 15 minutes or so browsing the internet on my laptop. I look at the same usual sites; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. And since I’m looking at these sites just for the sake of staying in my warm, comfy bed for just a few extra moments, I click on whatever grabs my attention first. Sometimes this could be watching a video I found funny, favoriting one of my friends’ tweets, or reading up on a recipe that looks good.
Lately though, I have been reading different articles that pop up on my feeds. Sometimes they’re posted by a page I follow or have been reposted by one of my friends. One thing I’ve noticed after reading these articles, is that they don’t always seem entirely true. For example, the other day while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a picture with a link to an article titled “Casey Anthony Found Dead at Age 29”. This caught my eye right away because the Casey Anthony trial was something that blew up national news media. So, I clicked on the link and began reading the article. The story claimed that the body of Casey Anthony was found in the back of a pickup truck at an Ohio rest stop near I-71. Although the story was both shocking and intruiging, I was a bit skeptical. If something like this were to happen, it would have hit national news right away and it would have been plastered all over every social media site and TV station. So I found it a little weird that this was the first time I was seeing it and I found out through a shared post on Facebook. I also noticed that the website the article came from was “Now 8 News” which had an extremely mediocre logo, and more importantly, I had never heard of before
Seeing that I was already invested in this, I did some research. I googled the headline of the story to see if anything else came up. Usually a story of this caliber would be covered by Fox or CNN, but I saw no links to any major news sources. Even more importantly, the first thing to appear on the top of the page was a picture of Casey Anthony accompanied by “What was fake on the Internet this week: Casey Anthony’s death and Chipotle’s 9/11 ad”. This article came from The Washington Post, which I already knew to be a credible news source. I clicked on the link and skimmed through the article a bit, but it didn’t take me long to confirm that the first article I found was a total hoax.
After this observation, I started to pay more attention to the things I was looking at online. I noticed that the fake Casey Anthony story was not the only thing on my social media feeds that was putting out false information. In fact, the majority of the posts or articles I was looking at were pretty questionable. For instance, I found a link retweeted by one of my friends called “What Your Birth Order Says About The Person You Will End Up With”. Overall the article was cool and interesting. It predicted what type of person you would most likely end up marrying based on whether you are the first born, last born, or middle child of your family. As fascinating as it would be to know what your future spouse will be like, it’s just not rational. The article claimed that middle children are more laid back and easy-going, so they would most likely pair with a last-born because they tend to be more careless. Not to mention, the article showed little to no scientific evidence or solid facts to back up their claims. Every person has their own unique personality, whether they were born first or last in their family. So who they end up with in the future is something no one can predict.
Although irritating, this wasn’t a huge shock to me because I know not everything found on the internet is true. But I was however surprised at how much of this false information was being thrown my way every day. Not only are my social media feeds covered with fake articles and posts, so are everyone else’s. Even worse is that countless people are actually falling for some of this fake media. For example, on the Casey Anthony story one of my friends shared, I clicked on the original post and took a look at the comments. Tons of people were writing things like “Wow, I can’t believe this” and “This was bound to happen.”
All of these people most likely did the same thing I do almost every time I see something online. Read it, put little thought into who wrote it or where it came from, believe it, and move on to reading the next bogus thing. This is why we have to expand our filter bubbles. We can’t just stick to looking at the things on our feeds and our friends’ walls. If we do, we’ll most likely be exposing ourselves to the same type of media and have no way of knowing if it’s real or not. If we really want to know the truth about something, we have to broaden our horizons and take a look at other websites. It’s much better to take the time and effort to research something than to be filling our minds with false information. Not all fake articles and posts will be as obvious as others, but if you think something seems questionable, look into it. There’s no harm in trying to find out the truth and educating yourself with real, solid information.