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Evaluating Web Resources

How to evaluate the objectivity, accuracy, and trustworthiness of Internet web sites.

Information Sharing on Social Media

TL;DR: Be wary of news links and other information you see on social media sites.  They are prime hotspots for misinformation sharing.

 

Benefits

Social media sites - Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc. - are extremely popular for good reason.  They allow us to connect easily with friends and family, share pictures and video, meet new people, and even network professionally.  A social media account gives you access to a wealth of resources that are easily accessedfree and designed to be shared with others.

Social media is also often used to inform and educate.  It offers a way for subject experts to communicate complex concepts in an easily understandable format.  For those who produce and consume social media responsibly, these platforms can be amazing tools to quickly share helpful information with a wide audience.

 

Examples of effective information sharing on social media:
  • Your university sharing a Federal Student Aid infographic on how to fill out your FAFSA
  • A community clinic posting tips on staying healthy during flu season
  • An author of a complicated scientific study sharing a summary of the findings
  • A reputable news organization sharing a link to a breaking news story

 

Risks

Many of the reasons that make social media appealing also make it a prime target for intentional and unintentional sharing of dis- and misinformation.

Unfortunately, there are people who intentionally and maliciously create social media content for the purposes of deceiving others.  This content can often:

  • use inflammatory language
  • mimic real news formats
  • impersonate famous people or organizations
  • use fake events, statistics, etc.
  • discuss highly controversial political or social issues

In addition to deliberate deception, it is very easy for social media users to accidentally spread misleading or incorrect information.  They may share fake content without realizing it.  They may also hear false or misleading information elsewhere, then create content with that information, believing it to be true.  That content then get shared again repeatedly.

 

Social media can be one of the least reliable places to get trustworthy information.  If you are unsure about any claims you see on a social media post, it is usually best to instead go directly to a trusted outside source for verification.