One thing I was able to learn this week in class was that I don’t do enough to fact check and verify everything that I read online, and that I should be doing more of it. However, I don’t always have time to look up every single piece of information I see online, but I know that I should. Another thing I learned was some new strategies for detecting misinformation and fake news online. When you have different sites, such as Snopes, where you can look up things that you come across to verify whether they are accurate, false, or misleading, which is important because it gives me another tool to stay well informed online. There are a lot of bad actors and dishonest people who are peddling “news” online, so it is especially important in this day and age to follow up on things that you see, and to do so with friends and family as well.
Personally, I have never been bullied or harassed online, but i have been subject to hostile communication and fake troll accounts. It feels like Twitter is the worst of the offenders when it comes to bots and trolls spewing hatred and misinformation online, although Facebook is pretty close behind. In either case, there is just so many trolls and bad actors online nowadays that it becomes almost impossible to completely avoid them at all times. If you are using the site, you should probably expect to come across them pretty regularly. The important thing is to take steps to reduce your interactions with hostile or troll accounts. Block ones that are bothering you, only follow trusted sources, make your profile private, or any other feature that limits interactions with strangers or people being rude online. However, the best strategy to avoid them is to not go online at all!
One of the most topical examples of a social media site taking action against disinformation would be Twitter, especially in the last couple weeks with the recent election. As more and more accounts are spreading false and conspiratorial information about the integrity of the election, Twitter has taken action to label tweets that have unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud or outright lies as unverified. The president has had dozens of tweets labeled in this way, and it shows that the company is not afraid to fact check, even the most powerful man in the world. I came across this by just scrolling through my feed! One tweet by the president read, “I WON THE ELECTION, BY A LOT,” which is obviously untrue and was appropriately marked as such haha.