They predicted a golden Information Age. But it appears what we’ve got is a tarnished Misinformation Age.
Faculty member Jeffrey Greene and doctoral student Victor Deekens write in a column published by The News & Observer of Raleigh on Sunday (Dec. 4) that the Internet is awash in falsehoods. They say that research shows many readers of online information are ill-equipped for parsing what is true … and what isn’t.
“Every second, online falsehoods are shared, retweeted, and liked on social media,” Green and Deekens write. “Many websites and articles that “go viral” are seductive fictions, including sites purposefully disguised as news sources intended to mislead, and those created by entrepreneurs interested solely in gaining web traffic and earning money from online advertising.
“The frequency of such deceptions is likely to increase as more and more people rely on the Internet as their primary, and often only, source of news. Search providers and social media sites are acknowledging the increasing presence of online deceptions, and proposing solutions, but the responsibility for overcoming this challenge rests with us all.”
Greene and Deekens write that developing “digital literacy” requires effort and a willingness to change our minds.
“We all must more carefully seek reliable sources and question our intentions – are we reading or sharing information to increase our understanding or simply to validate our own views? Perhaps most challenging, we all must learn to resist the temptations of an online world that is designed to tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to know.”
The column is located here.