The 21st century has given people more access to information, and although this is generally a good thing, it has also given them access to fake news. These days it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Democracy depends on the availability of reputable information; fake news poses a real threat to democracy.
The endless stream of content that people swipe through on their smart devices leaves them with almost no usable evidence to decipher fact from fiction and journalism from fake news. It’s really easy to get lost; many people click on all the links without really paying attention to where they’re going. We are so consumed with our phones that we don’t take the time to find out what’s really going on.
While social media can offer good ideas, it also creates toxicity because many people react without taking the time to analyze the facts. Social media seems to be trying constantly to distract users through constant advertisements. This robs a lot of people of the ability to think critically.
Social media gives the sense that if you’re not informed of every single detail about everything, somehow that is bad and people feel they are no longer able to choose when to put down their phones, turn off the TV, or step away from their computers. It’s like they’ve lost their ability to identify when they’ve had enough. Some studies show that the average person spends between 11 and 16 hours a day consuming media. That is most of his or her waking hours. This influences the individual’s perspective and worldview to the point that many are not using their own ideas to decide what to believe.
The media doesn’t necessarily want the truth, it wants attention and they get that through spectacles and extremism. As a result, platforms such as Facebook started flagging real news stories as inappropriate content simply because they were not coming from well-known sources. And so a lot of real stories get called fake news.
This film, shot and produced by students, tries to shed light on the growing phenomena that are keeping a large percentage of the population blind to what is really going on in the country and the world. There is an urgent need for media literacy education to give citizens the tools needed to identify information that they can trust.