Challenges for empowered consumers in the digital age

The challenges that are faced by a new internet savvy group of news consumers is similar to those posed at the start of the course, with a few modifications:

  • Speed vs. Accuracy 
    • In today's 24 hour deluge of information, when news breaks, we're ready to jump on it when it breaks -- however, this presents an opportunity for false news to spread just as quickly as news that has been verified. So, it pays for the informed news consumer to SLOW DOWN when presented with breaking news. 

  • Information Overload
    • We're constantly bombarded with words, images, and videos. It's like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. 



  • Authenticity
    • ​​With digital manipulation tools, can we believe everything we see? (This, for example -- is a fake.)

  • Blurring of the Lines
    • ​In the olden days, it was relatively easy to know your neighborhood at least in news media like newspapers, magazines, and radio and tv broadcasts. Today for a variety of reasons (but mostly commercial pressures) it’s a lot easier to get lost.

  • Confirmation Bias
    • ​It is now possible to live entirely within an information world in which you are offered only data that conforms to your beliefs. Google and Facebook and YouTube monitor your searches, your likes, your friends and they – in the name of service – deliver more and more customized ads and search. Pretty soon, you’ll rarely encounter anything that triggers cognitive dissonance in you. Instead, you’ll learn just how smart you are, over and over. 

So how do you fight this?

  • First, Use VIA -- Ask yourself:
    • ​Does the article provide evidence, reliable sources and transparency?
    • Is the information on the page accurate and not out of date?
    • Is the information verified?
    • Are multiple soucres cited?
    • Is the organization providing the information independent?
    • Can you check an ABOUT US page?

  • On the web...
    • Anonymity weakens authenticity - there are many opportunities for folks to express their beliefs online without having to use their real names, which weakens authenticity and accountability. 
    • Rank/Popularity does not equal reliability - Just because a site comes up as one of the first Google search results dosen't mean that its authoritative on the given subject. Take the tiem to look at multiple sources online. 
    • VIA & IMVAIN can help you spot hoaxes. 
    • Think critically at your own pace. The rush to judgment is a weakness of social media.