When it comes to whether or not to trust social media, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably “fake news”. Fake news refers to a form of news that consists of deliberate disinformation spread via traditional news or social media. With the popularity of digital news in today’s times, fake news is more wildly rampant.
According to an article from The Hill, which interviewed Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, the distrust surrounding social media has become worse due to the coronavirus pandemic in the last few months. “Social media is deeply distrusted right now because there’s too much fake news,” Edelman told Hill.TV. “People trust those who have credentials. … Everybody wants to know specifics. They don’t just want to get facts through social media”.
So should we be trusting social media? Or not?
What to Do
While the answer to this question is not necessarily black and white, there are things you can do to ensure that the news you read from social media is credible. Firstly, a good rule of thumb is to not trust news from social media unless it comes from a credible source. Credible sources are educational or scientific. NEVER take coronavirus or health-related information from random websites or social media profiles. Ensure they are a reputable source before trusting social media news. Also, do not trust any medical advice or “cures for coronavirus” without checking the website for the CDC. The CDC website is full of credible information regarding the pandemic.
Rise in Agnotology Studies
In addition, novel coronavirus has become a popular subject for experts in “agnotology”. Agnotology is the study of the cultural production of misinformation. “Misinformation spreads rapidly, especially in a time of great fear,” says Robert N. Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford and a pioneer in this field. “That’s always been true, from the burning of witches on up to hydroxychloroquine. When people are faced with a crisis, they become desperate.”
So, during this unprecedented time, when it comes to trusting social media, particularly news coming from it, make sure to do your homework on the source first. You health could depend on it!