We’ve got Good News!

We’ve got Good News!

Written by: J. Stokes – January 24, 2017

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Extra newspaper. (Image Credit: mennoknight.wordpress.com)

We’d like to begin today’s post with a blast from the past. If you can remember, last year the music world lost Prince Rogers Nelson, an iconic artist known for making hit songs such as “Purple Rain” and “1999.” Some have even considered him to be a Black activist as opposed to just a pop superstar. Another aspect of Prince that was often talked about was his fashion sense. His eccentric outfits and loud presence even made television host Jimmy Fallon once proclaim, “I mean, he had his own color. Who has their own color? He owns purple.” Speaking of fashion, did you know that Prince helped develop the Air Jordan shoe? You know, the shoe named after NBA legend Michael Jordan which was made widely popular around the globe. Indeed, Prince is responsible for this adored footwear. If you don’t believe us, just check out the meme below:

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Prince meme. (Image Credit: snopes.com)

Did we do a good job of convincing? How many of you out there called our bluff? The fact of the matter is our assertion holds no merit. It was a lie; the untruth; false news. For those of you not fooled, what made you come to the conclusion that Prince was never involved with the Air Jordan shoe? Did it have something to do with your knowledge of Prince’s lifetimes achievements, or was it the fact that we used a meme as our source of information?

Oddly enough, people today are tricked into believing false news reports on a daily basis. Lies continue to plague avenues of communication such as the World Wide Web as well as social networking sites like Facebook. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center once reported that the majority of its respondents (64 percent) felt fake news has left many Americans confused about basic facts. The eye-raising results didn’t stop there. Of the respondents, 23 percent said that they have shared a made-up news story. It’s easy to see why people would do so. In a country where tabloids spread lies about celebrities and butt augmentations have gained popularity, is it really a surprise that the public listens to and spreads stories that promote the untruth? Even the majority of reality television shows are scripted, ironically enough.

But aside from people’s willingness to believe catchy headlines or the first piece of news they see, those who are creating false narratives may also benefit.

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Celebrity tabloid headlines. (Image Credit: starcrush.com)

In certain situations, a source will share fake news in order to gain a larger audience or more views. This, in turn, could mean more revenue. For example, Paul Horner, known for writing fake news articles on Facebook, has made a living off viral news hoaxes for many years. According to Horner, Facebook and AdSense have made a lot of money from advertising on fake news sites. Another example of how fake news benefits creators of such content comes in the form of Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Texas. Tucker once posted a false story concerning demonstrations against then president-elect Donald J. Trump on Twitter. Having just 40 Twitter followers at the time, Tucker’s post was retweeted at least 16,000 times on Twitter. His post also had more than 350,000 shares on Facebook.

So, what’s the problem with having fake news? Some believe it can be extremely harmful to American democracy. Moreover, one should consider the fact that spreading false information is likely to cause damage to one’s career, especially in the case of celebrities (ex. Twitter hacks). With all of this happening, we must understand how to sift through the lies and find truth. Thankfully, there are some ways for you to pinpoint fake news and keep it from corrupting your thoughts. First, it is important to consider the source. This means understanding who is behind the information being shared. The Huffington Post is likely to have more credibility than a meme on social media, for instance. Therefore, if you see information on a social networking site such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, it might be a good idea to perform some additional research on your own. Considering sources could also mean looking into the author of a piece. For example, a licensed doctor would be more likely to educate others on high blood pressure than your average high schooler.

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Austin Powers meme. (Image Credit: makeameme.org)

Likewise, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s government web page would be more trustworthy than tmz.com on reporting about trends in childhood obesity (no shade).

Interestingly enough, experts in different fields may fall victim to their own biases, which has the potential to complicate news stories. We once posted about how journalists can unintentionally stereotype certain racial groups when speaking on crime, due to personal bias. This is why it is important to view multiple sources when it comes to the news. We at Tit 4 Tat have tried to make our blog posts as objective as possible, and provide both peer-reviewed scholarly articles as well as links to other credible sources whenever possible. Furthermore, each post, aside from our updates, has allowed for meaningful dialogue with you, the reader, in an attempt to hear differing perspectives. Though we try to report facts only, it is possible for a slip-up to happen every now and again, in which case a follow-up post can always be written.

If you are curious to know other methods of avoiding fake news, check out this link provided by factcheck.org, which is a credible, nonpartisan, nonprofit source meant to help clarify any confusion regarding U.S. politics. Another fact checker comes in the form of snopes.com, which is also considered a reliable source for debunking stories that are untrue. Ultimately, it is important for people to pay attention to detail whenever they are met with a piece of information, whether it be through television, social media, or any other form of communication. So the next time you see a meme circulating like the one we gave you at the beginning of this post, consider the source and do your own research. It’s time we become more than mindless consumers.

**What did you all think of today’s blog post? Was it informative? Check out the fact checker links we have listed for more information on what’s happening in the world around you.

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