We are living in a time where misinformation and “fake news” can be found almost anywhere. We encounter it in our daily lives and to many of us, it is just another part of life. Within the last few years, fake news has been thrown around pretty regularly, with information being labeled as fake just because it does not line up with somebody’s beliefs. This is why it is important for us as future history teachers to distinguish the differences between reliable sources and misinformation.
In past blog posts, I have stated that I use Twitter for all of my news. Whether it is sports related, political, or local news, I most likely got my information from Twitter. Misinformation is very common on Twitter, but with the use of verified accounts, it makes it a lot easier to pick out reliable sources. Websites can be a little more challenging. The “Always Check” article provides ways to check websites to make sure they are reliable or not. Personally, I never followed those steps. I always made judgement calls on websites. My tactics aren’t helpful, as there was one time I believed an article that was written by The Onion and to this day my brother has not let me live it down. For history papers, I tend to research the author to see if they are a reliable person to gather information from. Moving forward, checking the actual website might be just as important as researching the author.
I really enjoyed how the Time article brought modern examples of fake news claims into the article. The article argues that we fall for fake news because we tend to believe what we want to believe. The article also says people just don’t want to expand their research, they will take what they can get right off the bat. I think these two points are very important and I think they play the biggest role in the misinformation problem. My brother and I recently engaged in an email chain with a family member about some political issues and when we provided a source from a government branch, my family member did not believe the source even though the information was directly from a government branch. Even thought the source was very reliable and it directly disrupted their argument, they still did not believe it. The lack of desire to expand our research to understand all sides of information just fuels the fake news fire because people will only know one side of the information.
As teachers, we need to teach the proper tactics to research information and tell the difference between real information and misinformation. Not only will it help students in their future history classes, but it will help them in their everyday lives. If we do not emphasize this importance, the polarization of politics and other news sources will continue to grow.