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Opinion

The Growing State of Shrinking Reliability

The misplaced trust of the public has them following the voice of the shepherd leading them to the pen (Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail UK). The misplaced trust of the public has them following the voice of the shepherd leading them to the pen (Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail UK).

Giving as much of a reflection of one’s self when turned off as when the screen emanates white light, perhaps it brings more comfort to remain in the dark screen of one’s phone, away from the instant access to fountains overflowing with the signs of a decadent sophistication. Within the four sides of the electric window, the ability to peer into the rapidly declining state of internet credibility is given, displaying the rising trend of what has is aptly called fake news.

What once was the simple act of striving to create eye-catching headlines to entice the masses to read on has now expanded into a collection of sponsored stories to promote products or push agendas. It has become a weed whose roots have taken hold of each person with access to a media outlet, most susceptibility, the various platforms of social media.

Where one can see within the span of three swipes a cooking instruction guide, an article about the growing tension on Capitol Hill, and a video of a golden retriever saving a cat from a river, there is ample room for deception. Unfortunately, the amount of thought that goes into reading the information presented on the various forms of social media often seems to be quite low, breathing truth into the many shared posts which are, for all purposes, false.

This demands the importance of media literacy, which is the understanding of media as it is presented, identifying the complexities, and determining the trustworthiness of a particular piece. This is a skill which is lacking in many users of sites that take advantage of human sharing and reposting to spread information. That is not to say that the sharing of ideas is inherently malignant, rather that the state of the public forum has become more advanced in the ways that disinformation may impact those who do nothing to prevent their susceptibility.

Media literacy is the understanding media as it is presented, identifying its complexities, and determining its trustworthiness

A study done by the Media Insight Project in collaboration with the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that “people who see an article from a trusted sharer but written by an unknown source have much more trust in the information than people who see the same information from a reputable media source shared by a non-trusted person.” This finding, evidencing the dwindling importance for the origin of information and instead forming trust from the one who shares it, is genuinely frightening.

A failure to hierarchize the validity of information received on a massive scale is creating a world influenced so heavily by the media where the truth is becoming ambiguous. There is a branching off of ideas, and a dissemination of false information that continues to squeeze the misinformed into the smallest recesses of unguarded naivety.

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The Growing State of Shrinking Reliability