SU students should stop getting their news from social media – The Daily Orange

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The practice of students relying on social media for news rather than traditional sources is dangerous and counterproductive.
In the midst of a pandemic, rising geopolitical tensions and unprecedented partisanship in the U.S., Syracuse University students are engaging in an enormous amount of complex civil discourse. Engaging in debates and conversations around hot-button societal dilemmas is a vital component of the intellectual experience during one’s college years.
It helps promote a culture of curiosity on college campuses, forcing students to discover their core values and learn how to communicate effectively. However, the benefits that stem from such free-flowing speech can be contaminated and erased by the spread of misinformation.
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Years ago, traditional media outlets served as gatekeepers, stopping the spread of false narratives and sorting through which stories were valid or false. Nowadays, with the rise of social media platforms, this barrier has been eroded making it easier for individuals and institutions to spread false narratives.
One instance occurred on Feb. 25, 2022. A Facebook post depicted a video claiming to show the Ukrainian Air Force shooting down a Russian jet with the caption, “Just crazy footage of a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 shooting down an enemy Su-35 fighter jet. Glory to Ukraine…” The video was viewed 14,000 times in almost one week. The video turned out to be a clip from the video game Digital Combat Simulator.
Another instance of misinformation occurred on March 14, 2022. A Facebook post claimed that the price of oil was $141.71 per barrel in June 2008 while gas cost $4.10 per gallon on average. The post then said in March 2022, oil cost $99.76 per barrel, while the average price of gas was $4.32 per gallon. It then went on to say, “If you’re blaming anyone but greedy oil companies for their price gouging, you’ve bought into propaganda that hurts you more than anyone else.”

While this simple amount of data seems to prove the user’s point, market experts point out the fact that it takes ​​time for gas prices to respond to changes in crude oil prices. Experts also claim that the numbers were cherry-picked and the price differences from 2008 to 2022 are not as exaggerated as the user suggests. On top of this, the user ignores other variables such as the changing geopolitical landscape and recovery from the pandemic. Facebook eventually took down the post after it was flagged as part of its campaign to combat false news.
Even though in both instances fact-checkers were able to deem the posts as false, the posts were already viewed by tens of thousands of people and the damage was done. We can not let the actions of malicious actors determine the course of civil discourse on campus or in this country, letting misinformation manipulate our responses to global conflicts.
One thing students on campus can do to shield themselves from misinformation is to look to more credible sources for their news. Studies have shown that younger people tend to consume media from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok rather than traditional publishers.
A study from the Reuters Institute found that 57% of 18 to 24 year-olds in select countries go to social media and messaging apps when they first pick up their smartphones for news. This exposes them more to potential misinformation because social media platforms are not treated as publishers and are not liable for content that is false or defamatory that is posted by a user on their platform.
Other steps students can take to make sure an article or piece of media is credible or not subject to bias is to look for the original source, determine if the piece is an opinion piece or a news article and verify what they are reading by looking up the information on other sites.
To protect the integrity and benefits of civil discourse on campus, students need to place a greater emphasis on media literacy over convenience. They need to be more responsible and look for credible sources rather than parroting an infographic from Instagram or a 30-second clip from TikTok.
Gil Markman is a sophomore economics major. His column appears biweekly. He can be reached at [email protected].
Published on March 22, 2022 at 11:32 pm
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