Discerning Fake News
IN our present situation where communication is faster than our thoughts, we thought that the problem of misunderstanding, misinformation and miscommunication would be things of the past. Ironically, the division between people becomes much more pronounced as the communication gap widens. But we cannot point our fingers to the present technology as the culprit for the increasing communication gap; the culprit is our inability to capitalize on social medial to our advantage. Instead, we use social media for our own self-interest. We use the internet as a tool to destroy individuals, communities, institutions, and even countries. Even the Catholic Church and the CBCP are not immune from the attacks of the enemies of the Church via fake news.
With the alarming increase in fake news circulating on social media today, in general, it is observable that many of us, are not vigilant in verifying the truthfulness of juicy news or sensational information found on the net. We don’t have the passion to check its sources. Who wrote it? What’s their motivation in writing it? What are their background, biases, and prejudices? Is the article information or opinion? Sad to say, we don’t spend time and effort to check the veracity of circulating “news.”
Surprisingly, a good number of forwarded or shared post are driven by emotions, and not by reason. Shared posts are often not motivated by conviction, truth, and discernment. It was driven by emotions. It’s all about us – our feelings. It is not about the truth anymore. To avoid falling into the deceit and confusion brought by false news, here are three basic guidelines before posting or sharing any news or information. We don’t want to be deceived by fake news, and end up victims of lies and deceit.
- READ THE ARTICLE WELL. DON’T GET EXCITED. Read the article or news thoroughly. Use your mind, not your emotions. Never commit the mistake of posting or sharing something out of compulsion. Some titles are obviously sensationalized. Headlines are supposed to summarize the article in one word or phrase. But with fake news, sensational titles are meant to provoke the emotions of the readers.
- BEWARE OF YOUR EMOTIONS. Fake news is meant to discredit people or institutions. Its intention is not to give facts but to spread lies and sow confusion. The intention of fake news is not to give pertinent information for sound discernment but to instill more lies, deceit, and mayhem. To get our attention, the strategy of fake news is to stir our emotions. When our emotions are fired up, we tend to think less objectively, and be more subjective.
- BE MORE OBJECTIVE BEFORE BELIEVING. Know the difference between information and opinion. Information is based on facts, and heavily supported by witnesses, sources, and data. On the other hand, opinion is based on personal understanding and judgment. Thus, we need to be more discerning and objective before posting or sharing any opinion, for not all opinions are grounded on good discernment.
These are basic tips for consideration before posting or sharing any news or opinions. We, as agents of love, truth and justice, must think critically before believing any story. We don’t want to catch ourselves trying to repair damage done by the mistake of posting something out of compulsion.