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Fact or fiction: How to tell accurate information in era of social media

Posted at 6:57 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 21:58:37-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - From updates on coronavirus restrictions to protests to city curfews, there are important topics to stay up-to-date on that are constantly evolving. In a time like this, there are important tricks to remember to help sort fact from fiction.

Lynn Walsh is the Ethics Chair for the Society of Professional Journalists and said social media can be a good place to get information, as long as you know how it works and some red flags to keep an eye on.

“Remember that the content that you’re seeing is all based on an algorithm and that algorithm is based on content that you are normally engaging with and the people that you are connected with and engaging with,” she said.

She said social media will tailor what you see to who and what you interact with, so a good tool can be getting off apps and going straight to the source. She said to try googling stories to see diverse coverage of the subject and other related stories.

She said a tool to tell if an informational post is true is to see if there is a link to more information. If someone just posts a picture or screenshot with facts or information, ask for more.

“Hey do you have a link that adds or provides more information? Because the county is not going to post this jpeg image online. There’s going to be a link on a website, it’s going to link back where there’s more information,” she said.

She also reminds that social media companies can filter content. She said they each have different policies on how and what they filter.

“People say ‘oh it’s my First Amendment right to publish anything I want on these platforms.’ Remember the First Amendment applies to the government censorship of your opinion. It does not apply to businesses, if a business wants to decide to take something down, they can, that is their private platform,” she said.

While news outlets and social media platforms are responsible for being accurate, she also pointed out that in an era of sharing posts, people also need to hold themselves accountable.

“The third group that has responsibility in misinformation and things spreading, it’s the public. We have a responsibility to let people know if they’re sharing something that’s incorrect,” she said.