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Students Somewhat Confident in their Ability to Separate Fact from Fiction

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The age of information entered a new phase in the past year, one of mass distrust in the free press. The prevalence of social media combined with the impressionability of the people created the perfect storm for fake news, a phenomenon that has been used to attack opponents on both sides of the aisle.
Fake news grew prevalent around the end of last year’s election season, when writers recognized that they could write anything about Donald Trump, and given his brash personality, it would be believable. At its inception, Democrats were the ones fighting the hardest against it, but as time progressed, however, public distrust fueled by the President’s distaste for bad press has turned the “fake news” mantra on its head. Suddenly, calling something “fake” became a rallying cry for the right, and eventually, an accusation against anything disagreeable for both sides.
In this day and age, it can be difficult to tell if the news you’re taking in is true or not. Most teenagers get news from social media, something that has posed as both a problem and a benefit to reliability.
“I rarely watch actual news, since it tends to get really depressing,” sophomore Ruby Maderfont said. Getting news directly from the source is extremely accessible through Twitter and Snapchat, but in the case of misinformation, ease of access and sharing causes the fault to almost instantly spread to the general public. In cases such as this, secondhand accounts are often verified as facts, something that is
extremely damaging especially in times of immediate danger to a person or group.
“It’s important to spread factual information so you don’t look like an idiot,” senior Amanda Perez said. Theoretically, teenagers who grew up alongside technology should be the ones most able to determine what’s true or false, but a Stanford study found that even they were unable to tell the difference between a “sponsored content” story and a story from a legitimate, esteemed publication.
“There’s a lot of people our age that can [verify information], but then again, there’s just as many that can’t,” Maderafont said.
Everyone has their own means of checking information. Maderafont relies on the general consensus of truth: “if I see it multiple places without people in the comments saying that it’s wrong, it’s probably accurate.”
Talks are already in place to solve the issue, with ideas that include a Facebook fact-checking team to verify articles that suddenly gain popularity, and a school curriculum that requires teachers to instruct kids on how to determine what information is reliable and what isn’t.
Fake news is not a new problem, but it’s definitely one that’s seen a resurgence in today’s tense political climate.

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Students Somewhat Confident in their Ability to Separate Fact from Fiction