In any information we encounter, it is important to exercise media literacy. It is a tool of analysis we need in order to protect our online space and in order to preserve our freedom of speech and of expression.
Media literacy protects us from questionable and fake media content. It allows us to not be fooled so we can make informed and rational decisions.
Stay smart and exercise media literacy when dealing with any media content:
1. Identify Anonymous Sources
In journalism, some sources who hold confidential information have the right to remain anonymous. But it puts the writer in question how he or she obtained data. As a reader, you have no choice but to research if such data are available in other news sites. The writer’s claims may technically be incorrect if the sources are not factual. Moreover, readers must not trust the news with anonymous sources automatically and should wait for follow up reports.
2. Confirm Unverified Content
This is the lamest excuse for poor writing. Journalists usually go through a stringent verification process to make sure that their reports are factual and accurate. When you encounter suspicious content anywhere online, embrace your curiosity and research more about it. Do not share unverified reports before finding out more about it. If it really turns out to be untrue, call out the writer or the organization propagating it.
3. Double-check False Information
Many say that this generation is already in the “post-truth era” because there are a lot of truths available. Truth is relative from person to person because according to some, there are many versions of it. But false information is and will always be false information. Detect false information by comparing it to sources of various news sites and by fact-checking its origin.
In this day and age, producing and consuming content on social media are not limited to the self anymore. It is only ethical that we become media literate users of it. This is how democracy flows and survives. It allows us to be free from certain restrictions but it also gives us the responsibility to be accountable of our actions.
Fake news can kill freedom of speech — know how.
Fake news can even shorten your life — learn why.
[Entry 235, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Sarah Torres is a co-founder of Out of The Box, a non-profit that forwards media literacy education in the Philippines.