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Nathan Johnson, Reporter

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People often speak about how the internet “changed everything” with regards to the free flow of information. While this is true, it was not until Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media networks became popularized that the flow of information really changed. Before this happened, people just got their news from CNN, NBC, and Fox, or read the online versions of these or popular newspapers or magazines like The New York Times or USA Today. When social media became more readily available to people, people shifted from actually visiting these websites on their own to relying on seeing a link to a story from one of these websites on their Facebook feeds or completely excluding traditional news outlets from their lives. There is no doubt that traditional media has taken a hit from the rise of social media.

However, this is not necessarily a bad thing for media consumers. Now, instead of relying on just a few news sources, it is easy to read and rely on many different ones. People are now able to read articles from independent, smaller news sites and ones that have a wider array of opinions. While, yes, reading 140 characters on Twitter does not give a reader a nuanced look on a topic and can cause many misreadings due to a lack of ability to explain oneself, there are many other outlets where longform journalism and articles can be shown and expressed. Youtube is a great example; it allows for essentially as long a video as one wants to be uploaded. It would seem that overall social media has led to a freer society, in which information can be openly shared and transferred.

So, why the cause for concern? It seems that lately everyone has been talking about so called “Fake News” and its influence on society. There is some truth to this. With great freedom comes great responsibility and people who are going to prey upon those who are not capable of such responsibility. Due to the internet being so free, consumers of news media must be wary of fake news articles. These have essentially existed since the beginning of news. Untrue rumors are nothing new, but they have found a special home on the Internet. The reason being that the money generated from news comes from ad revenue, the more people that see the ad on the page the more money the news site makes from the advertisement company. More clicks equals more money. This opens the door to clickbait titles like “You Won’t Believe what Hillary Clinton Did To This Baby” or “Donald Trump Pees on 12 Russian Hookers”, the latter being an article that Buzzfeed ran only a week ago. Some of these titles are dishonest to what the actual article is about and just aims to get the reader to click and end up being disappointed, but others are true to what the story is. However, many of these stories are fabricated, like the Buzzfeed one.

On the other hand, it is important not to be fooled by the term, “Fake News”, as it comes from old, outdated, biased, mainstream media. Yes, it is true that there are blatantly false news stories out there, but it is not especially hard to sift through the crap in order to find real news, so I find it highly unlikely that too many people are being manipulated by “Fake News”. In addition beginning to label certain news as “fake” opens up a whole new can of worms. Who decides it is fake? How do we know it is fake? Who is stopping anybody else from calling real news fake whenever they want to? It seems that this term was really created for old media to grapple with the fact that irrelevancy is coming sooner and sooner by the day. All in all, social media has allowed for the people to have better not worse control over the media they observe. They have more options, better options, and more honesty. Social media will no doubt be an important part of every American and likely every person’s news because it allows for more truth it is an extension of Western liberty.

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The student news site of Head-Royce School
Your Social Media News Outlet