We live in an increasingly connected world, but the charm of the Internet and social media is being challenged by online bullying, fake news and the need to keep personal data protected.
The real question is, who is accountable?
The terms “troll” and “fake news” were created by the users of social media, but the real culprits of these issues are the algorithms inside the platforms.
As new social media apps continue to pop up every day, the problem has only gotten bigger and begun to manifest itself in more dangerous ways. The internal structure of social media has turned platforms such as Facebook and Instagram into a threat to truth and democracy on a global level. In short, we are in the midst of a social media crisis.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a problem simply fixed by one person, but there are some ways to keep yourself safe from misinformation.
1. Background Checks
Before you consider sharing a News Article or Infographic, take 1-2 minutes to Google where the information came from. Who is the author? Who did the study? Does the organisation behind the post have something to gain from sharing the information?
2. Understand Your Algorithm Bias
Social Media algorithms are designed to show you content that you enjoy and engage with to keep you coming back to the platform. It’s important to keep this in mind when political or health-based information pops up on your timeline. It’s likely that it was recommended to you because you interacted with a similar post. This system often means you are fed content that you already believe in and agree with and won’t get to see the other side of the story.
3. Read the Terms and Conditions
Everyone is guilty of skipping over the Terms and Conditions, but realistically the T’s & C’s are a legal document between you and the social media platforms you use. It’s the rules they expect you to follow and the degree of privacy that you are agreeing to. So next time an app updates their privacy agreement, take a little extra time to check that you’re okay with the data they’re collecting.
Until effective action is taken by social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the best we can do is take accountability and think twice about the information we absorb.
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