Taking the “Mis” Out of Misinformation
The spread of misinformation has become a pressing issue in our digital age. It seems like everywhere you look online people are claiming things like “fake news”. It’s hard to deal with all the conflicting information, and I think it’s up to content creators to make it easier for readers to determine the truth from the rest.
I have taken care to ensure my posts on social media sites, such as TikTok, can’t be taken out of context. I made this a priority because misinformation seems to spread much faster through these channels, and “half of 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States say they have some or a lot of trust in the information they get from social media sites,” (Liedke, 2022). That’s why I have made all my social media content “rating videos” or mentioned they were my opinion in the captions. I think this keeps people who see my content on social media from treating my information as a credible source, and contrasts my written blog posts, which have more of a “news” element to them.
Since misinformation is such a big issue, I added a disclaimer in the “My Blog” category of my website (Check it out here). I chose to put it in this section because my posts here are written in more of an “article style,” which could lend them to be taken seriously. I hope my disclaimer will help readers understand the purpose of my blog. It’s for myself. I am simply sharing my opinions.
Another thing I could improve on to limit misinformation in my written blog posts, is researching social media claims before I produce written content based on them. Although this would help me ensure that my sources are credible, it would remove my blog from its intended purpose. It is supposed to be a commentary about pop-culture moments I see online, whether they are true or not. By thoroughly fact checking what I see, I feel it makes my site more like a news source, which I have no credentials for, and less of a personal journal.
I also think the kind of content I produce doesn’t lend itself to being taken as seriously as a news source. My content its rather trivial in comparison. Although, there is still an opportunity for misinformation because I choose what I write about based on what I see online. I do try to mention in my posts that I am getting all my information from social media. For example, in my recent post about the Selena Gomez/Hailey Bieber feud (Click here to read it!), I start by saying, “It seems like once every six months the social media world spirals into the chaos of the Selena Gomez-Hailey Bieber “feud” all over again.” Throughout my posts I also try to use buzz words like, “in my opinion” or “I feel”. I hope this means readers take what I have to say with a grain of salt, and my content doesn’t contribute to a chain of misinformation.
Our readings also talk about evaluating bias or purpose when reading a site. It urges readers to think about why the content was created, whether to persuade, inform, or entertain (Caulfied, 2016). My website definitely falls in the entertain category, however I made sure to go back and address some of my biases in my posts to make things easier for my readers. In my Taylor Swift post I say “being a fan of her for so long has built major trust,” and “I know I am biased,” to ensure my words aren’t taken out of context. I even mention I am a “huge Swiftie” to further cement this point. Although all my posts have some element of bias, as I am obviously partial to sides that align more closely with my opinions, my Taylor post was definitely the most biased. I was just so excited to write about her (Click here to read it).
Our readings also dive into misleading designs and how they contribute to misinformation (Caulfield, 2016). This forced me to evaluate my design from a more critical point of view. I don’t think it is misleading in the sense that it mirrors news sources. I think it’s clear that my website is a personal blog, and my site logo (Click here to view it) adds to this. I think my design is much more personal than that of a news source, and presents myself as the “brand”.
That being said, I still spent this week reviewing all my old posts to see if they were misleading, and making edits when necessary. The last thing I want is for my content to start a social media comments war!
Caulfield, M. (2016, December 22). Yes, Digital Literacy. but which one? Hapgood. Retrieved March 26, 2023, from https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/
Liedke, J., & Gottfried, J. (2022, November 4). Trust in social media is changing. here’s how it breaks down by age. World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 26, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/11/social-media-adults-information-news-platforms/