From nightly news programs to any social media platform, you’re constantly in danger of being manipulated to believe that false information is accurate. “Click-bait” content is becoming increasingly common as businesses leverage these tactics.
Understanding Media Literacy
Media literacy provides a framework to analyze, assess, evaluate, and create messaging and content in various forms.
“Media literacy” isn’t necessarily a familiar term for those who grew up before the Internet age. We lived in a world where only a handful of news entities existed several decades ago. They took the responsibility to seriously base their journalism on accurate sources – their network depended on it.
NOTE: Of course, this doesn’t mean that all news was ever 100% truthful or necessarily well-written, but the lack of competition and sales revenue attached to eye-catching content did create a different world for journalists than the one that exists today with the 24-hour news cycle.
Today, anyone can publish an article and upload it to the Internet. Since practically anyone can whip up a URL attached to a quasi-professional-looking webpage, we now live in a society where any off-hand musing or false information can be presented as seemingly legitimate.
Think of it in terms of rumors. Back in the day, rumors could only get as far as word of mouth would take it – otherwise, those rumors had to make it through editors and other gatekeepers before making it to a large audience. Today, stories posted online can reach millions of people instantaneously, allowing false information to spread like wildfire.
So how do you combat “fake news” and get to the absolute truth? Here are two questions to consider when you encounter a new piece of information:
#1 What’s the source?
The term “studies show” could mean many things. To identify a reliable study, find out where it was published if it’s been peer-reviewed, and how many participants took part? Headlines can easily manipulate readers by referencing a study out of context. When applicable, look for a citation, then consider who’s funding the discussed research to assess possible bias.
#2 What’s being sold?
Every single piece of messaging we receive is being funded and created by someone trying to get us to do something – it’s called a “call to action.” A call to action isn’t necessarily anything evil - it could be as simple as a wedding invitation asking you to RSVP. But it could also be a political advertisement trying to feed you false information about a candidate to get you to cast your vote a certain way.
Next time you share an article on Facebook, check your source and do a quick Google search to ensure you aren’t a part of the fake news cycle!
When marketing your business, it’s important not to promote “fake news” that can damage your reputation. Instead, creating unique content highlighting your expertise is a safe route to take. However, not everyone has the time or desire to create content—that’s where we come in! SYNDUIT has an expansive content library, including a wide variety of content researched and developed by our marketing experts. Sign up today and take advantage of all SYNDUIT can offer your business!