Over the past couple of years social media and the internet has been used increasingly as a means of staying informed on news from a local to global scale. There are reputable news outlets and people that do utilize social media platforms and websites, however, any person or organization can share, publish, or say anything they want and advertise it as news. The problem is people believe stories that are presented to them on their timeline’s or and search results without checking who it is from or digging deeper to determine the authenticity of what they are reading. This presents a daunting obstacle to overcome and leaves us asking what can be done to make sure we are getting factual news. I believe social media companies and search engines need to take on a larger role in making sure information surfacing on the web is accurate.
I believe the first step to combating this problem is getting social media companies to censor accounts spreading false stories. If a social media account has a reputation of publishing stories that are inaccurate and advertising it as news, the account needs to be either suspended from the platform until it changes how they present stories or expelled from the platform all together. Secondly, social media outlets must eliminate bots from their platforms. Bots are accounts that are not physically operated by a person, they are operated by computers. With that said, they act as if they are real people on the internet, sharing stories, news, and videos that are often inaccurate with the intent of swaying public opinion. The first step to reforming social media all together is identifying the accounts that are purposely posting false stories and minimizing their impact on society.
Web browsers and social media outlets need to make reputable news sources more accessible while informing users of sources that are not as reputable. When a person searches for news, a whole range of stories from different outlets appear. Some outlets are reputable like PBS and NPR where as others present serious concerns about the authenticity of the news they are sharing like Breitbart and Al-Jazeera. Since all these outlets are equally accessible, sources that clearly have problems with presenting fact-based news are viewed as reputable. Web browsers and social media companies alike need to place news from sources with reputable fact-based reporting at the top of each search result making them more accessible to users. On the other hand, web browsers and social media platforms need to inform users of accounts that are not reputable. Companies should place an indicator with questionable sources that signify to users that an outlet have a reputation for untruthful reporting. This will allow users to use their best judgement when surfing the internet for news.
The next step is for social media companies and web browsers to identify political leanings of reputable accounts and websites. Companies should put an indicator next to an account or website that informs users of the political leaning of a certain outlet, so individuals can keep in mind the potential bias a news story might have. Social media companies and search engines should also present users who click on a certain story with more news about the story from other outlets with different biases, this will allow for people to get a more wholistic view and come to a decision as to what they think.
Web browsers and social media companies need to take the next step in ensuring that the news surfacing on their platforms is authentic. Eliminating accounts spreading false news, making reputable sources more accessible, indicating questionable sources, and informing users of the political leanings of our most trusted outlets will go a long way in reforming the way news is shared on the internet.
For my mentor interview I sat down with Zane Sharkawy, a second year Finance major and music minor on a pre-law track from Boston, Massachusetts. Zane is a member of PSL and wants to attend law school, obtain an M.B.A., and join the Airforce so it will open the door to countless career oppurtunities. During his free time, he enjoys calling his family and watching basketball. In high school, Zane swam and ran track. Currently on campus he participates in a wide variety of activities such as soccer and volleyball to paying piano, drums, and singing as a tenor 1 in the OSU’s University Chorus. As a student at OSU, he takes an active role in residence life since he values the relationships with people in the building, student organizations because of the diverse number of clubs that allow everyone a chance to get involved and utilizes the resources this university has to offer everywhere from the gym to the library. When asked about his freshman year, Zane wishes he would have done more things relevant to his future, for example, he regrets not going to the career fair because it would have been a great learning experience regardless of the results. Some advice Zane gave me was that if relationships with people are heading in the wrong direction is that I shouldn’t be afraid to be the bigger person who is willing to compromise and to follow my heart. He also told me not to be afraid to disassociate myself with people to whom I am close with but are having a negative impact on me because they’ll eventually get the message and either try to build back the relationship or fade away. On the flip side, Zane loves Ohio State and can’t wait to accomplish his dream of entering the Airforce.
Hello! My name is Matthew Leder. I am a freshman majoring in Public Policy Analysis. I was born at the Wexner Medical Center and have lived in Hilliard, Ohio my entire life, so buckeye nation has always been very important to me. I am the eldest of four and the first person in my family to attend The Ohio State University. I just recently graduated with honors from Hilliard Darby High School where I played football and served on class cabinet. I enjoy attending Ohio State sporting events, reading books about law and politics, following current newsworthy events, watching satirical tv shows, and being with friends and family. As a student at The Ohio State University, I hope to find another major that will assist me in getting into and through law school where I hope one day to become an attorney for underserved populations. I also want to engage in service oriented activities to help understand and solve problems that our neighbors face everyday. Lastly, I am interested in studying legal systems abroad to gain a better understanding of how other countries legal systems work and to identify some challenges here in the U.S. that can solved by exploring what other countries do. I can’t wait to start my journey!
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