Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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    Fake news is your fault

    By Saskia Hatvany

    Millennials complain about fake news, yet they are part of the problem.

    The 2016 election was more than a devastating loss for the Left — it was an embarrassment.

    After a brief period of mourning, the outcome was blamed on biased media coverage, Russian hackers, and Hillary’s unpopularity. However, the most widely accepted is theory that fake news on social media played a fundamental role in influencing the election for the worst.

    There is no doubt that pre-election Facebook was rampant with fake news stories that spread like wildfire and that the tech giant did little to extinguish them.

    In the past, the company has been under scrutiny for its questionable privacy policies only made worse by Mark Zuckerberg’s relative un-likeability

    But blaming social media alone is a cop-out, and here’s why. When we treat Facebook like a news organization, we hold it to the same journalistic standards that we expect from a news publication.

    The problem is that Facebook is not a news organization, nor did it ever promise to be.

    Fake news thrives because it has an audience. In other words, it’s still here because people are consuming it.

    Take the typical social media algorithm, for example, which provides users with what it thinks they want the most. Advertisements, and “likes” are a few ways that a platform can determine a user’s preferences, but arguably what influences your feed the most is where you click.

    American society needs to learn how to read information with a critical eye

    By clicking on a link, you are providing the sponsoring ads with revenue, and the algorithm will interpret that click as a preference. Regardless of how long you spend on the page, or whether you are actually satisfied by the content

    If your Facebook page was littered with fake news during the election, chances are you, or many of your friends, were unknowingly endorsing fake news.

    In all fairness, when you’re sitting groggy-eyed, smartphone in one hand, coffee in the other, nobody blames you for clicking on “Man Jumps out of Moving Car and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next” or “22 Ways to Make Sure You Still Have Thumbs.”

    The harsh reality is that it’s much easier to blame someone else for your bad habits. And it’s ridiculous to demand that Facebook spoon-feed us information when our democratic values go against the very idea of a controlled news cycle.

    Having an independent party tailor information for the masses risks propagandistic behavior, which goes against the First Amendment promise of freedom of the press.

    American society needs to learn how to read information with a critical eye, and as the largest consumers of digital information, Millenials are best disposed to drive real change.

    Think of it this way — the same way you vote with your dollar when you purchase items, you vote with your click on social media.

    So if you want to see the news cycle change for the better, stop blaming fake news on everybody else and take matters into your own hands. Do your research, hold people accountable, and whatever you do, click responsibly!

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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