Neptune Navigate Blog

Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.

Fact or Fiction…How Do You Know?

May 15, 2021

I want to start this out by saying unequivocally that I love my mom.  She’s pretty awesome in so many ways, but I keep having the same discussion with her over and over that is driving me nuts.  She continues to share false information.

She loves social media.  It used to be that all she and her friends would post were recipes. Oh, the recipes! I couldn’t click on Facebook without seeing a recipe for another casserole.

But over the course of the past year, that same  group of women all seem to have morphed into their own little “We Need To Right The World’s Wrongs Club.” And that, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing.  We always need people fighting for what is right in the world.  The problem with my mother and her friends is that they see a controversial post on social media and BOOM!  It must immediately be shared to everyone in their contact lists.

Herein lies the problem.  They never stop to fact-check anything they read before they share it.   And because of that, each time they share that post or forward that text to someone, they are perpetuating the problem of misinformation.

I’ve since begun fact checking any article she sends and then sending out a screenshot to the entire group  showing that it is indeed false information.  Yesterday, she sent me an article that had, “Fact checked.  This is real,” at the bottom of the article.  My first thought was that anyone can type that at the bottom of any article….that doesn’t make it legitimate information. After fact checking it for myself, I discovered that it came from a satirical source and was indeed not true.

I’ve learned that if it is a piece of information that elicits a strong emotional response within the reader, it’s probably a hoax.  But that is the very thing that grabs people’s attention and draws them in.  We all have strong feelings about certain topics and want to be sure we do our part to  make the world a better place.  These sweet ladies are no different.

I also look for the author of the article.  If one is listed, I do a search to see who they are, and what makes them an expert on that topic. Sometimes, as in the latest message from my mother, the article will give sources that claim to validate the information.  Always check those out as well.  Does the site represent more than one view point?  Does it represent only a fringe view of a larger group?  Take a bit of time and do your own research to determine if those sources are credible or not.

I’m sure most people are like my mom and her friends who want to educate those in their sphere of influence and do what they can to improve society.  And that truly is a noble desire to have.  Let’s just be sure we are educating with factual information and not information that is fabricated.

Otherwise, we might all be better off finding a new twist on the classic  green bean casserole.