Komorebi Post- Whether it’s managing our social life, staying in touch with family members, or keeping up to date on the latest news. Social media plays a huge role in our lives in the UK. According to Facebook there is a nine percent increase with number of daily active users- the site calculated around 1.49 billion on average day. One of the issues that has been recently highlighted in the UK media is fake news related to Brexit referendum. Facebook is currently facing serious accusation for spreading misinformation thus effecting political opinions.
Toby*, 19-year-old, a Law student, from Yorkshire. As a university student, Facebook allows him to see the most shared and liked topics in law, without having to do multiple clicks on a search engine page, which saves him time, but he also communicates with his university friends. Toby lost confidence in widespread news shared on the platform after a viral warning of a suspected child groomer in his area. There was no evidence to back the claim and this individual could have been innocently driving around looking for their own child. He said:
“unless it is by the BBC or other legitimate companies like the Guardian. Fake news can quickly gather momentum through shares and people start to believe it.”
Unreliable news has made Toby cautious when reading stories on the site. As soon as he saw news advertised by Facebook “highlighting” the devastating consequences of Brexit. The first was a poll predicting how post Brexit deforestation would impact the habitat of orangutans with Britain continuing using bio fuels, and the second, an article focusing on the chocking effects of plastic straws on sea turtles.
Toby was shocked when he was told that was fake news, as he did not notice anything out of the ordinary about the articles. He explained: “When you read the stories you are more interested in the theme and that’s what hooks you in.” he suggested that sea turtles would most likely sway young voters as, “they tend to be more concerned about environmental issues.”
It is easy to be manipulated into believing a news story, even without basic journalistic standards like sources for example a picture of an animal in distress. But now users can act and flag up if they suspect the content to be inaccurate. However, are all readers capable of distinguishing such content?