Editorials

Social media sways the political views of teenagers

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Graphic by EDDIE LU

by KAITLYN DO

Controversy over “fake news” and “alternative facts” in the national media has made determining truth in current events difficult, as lines become blurred by the opinions from all factions of the political spectrum.

 

The phrase “people are entitled to their own opinion” seems to have gotten to the point where any opinion can be presented as fact. Typical news sources are no longer seen as reliable because of how biased the presented information may be. After President Donald Trump  declared Cable News Network (CNN) fake news in January, the identity “fake news” or “alternative facts” has taken social media by storm.

 

Credible news sources such as The Washington Post and The National Review have established reputations based on adherence to news ethics. They protect themselves from accusations of libel (false statements that are damaging to the person’s reputation) by employing reputable, trained journalists who check all sources for accuracy. Because it is difficult to distinguish between what is true and not, it is common for everyday citizens to obtain misleading information, especially if it comes from sources that are known to be biased.

 

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are the four social media powerhouses. Receiving news from social media platforms has become the norm for those who spend a great deal of time on their electronic devices.

 

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center on Jan. 12, approximately 1.96 billion Americans use social media on a regular basis. For 62 percent of these Americans, social media has doubled as their news source, making these platforms top news sources for people across the nation. Because news sources on social media are not monitored, they have greater chance of being inaccurate because of having the freedom to publish the content they please without checking sources.

 

In a March 13 poll, 87 percent of the 241 Schurr High students surveyed rely on the internet, television or social media to attain their news, while 13 percent rely on their peers, families or newspapers. It is crucial that students are made aware that news sources they rely on are more prone to presenting libelous information than printed publications, such as newspapers or their websites, because these sources are constantly checked by their editors for accuracy. Instead of relying on social media for news, students should consider other news sources that have been deemed more reliable.

 

Some of these news sources include the Washington PostNew York TimesThe National Review, and The Federalist. While all of these news sources may have biases, they are less likely to contain libelous information than sources on social media platforms. According to AllSides.com, a website that determines potential biases of news sources, the Washington Post, and the New York Times typically have a left-wing bias, meaning their newspapers are known to be more liberal, social or radical. The National Review and The Federalist typically have a right-wing bias, meaning that their news may be more conservative or reactionary.

After becoming better informed, students should form their own opinions based on information from reliable news sources that they read or hear. By doing this, students would not only become aware of what is going on, but would also be better informed about topics that potentially affect them as well. Being more knowledgeable about current issues will foster a community in which people will think about and question what they read rather than accepting it based on what they have been told.

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