Recently, especially in taking a course on misinformation, I have found that I am seeing quite a bit less of this content on my social media feeds than I was during election years and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020. This was inspiring a bit of hope in me that maybe there really has been a unified effort between the public as well as the companies hosting false content to eradicate this problem. This week, though, I found that due to the crisis in Ukraine, I am finding more content online that immediately sticks out as possible misinformation than I have in months.
This discovery makes a lot of sense after taking this course, as we learned the reasons why people spread misinformation in the first place. One of those reasons, as mentioned by TRU, is for political or financial gain, working with already existing consensus to validate others’ beliefs and values. As such, it is hard to imagine a perfect world where misinformation is no longer being circulated. There will always be polarizing topics, as history does not stop and technology continues to advance.
Technology is actually one of the main reasons why misinformation continues to be successful at such a large scale. With constant advancements in AI technology on social media platforms and countless bots posting information that inspires a great deal of engagement (which benefits social media platforms), “AI-generated content will continue to become more sophisticated, and it will be increasingly difficult to differentiate it from the content that is created by humans” (DiResta 2020).
Moving forward in conditions such as these, I feel that one of the main reasons that people can live without being affected by such content is by education of proper media literacy skills. This pre-arms individuals against such content before it has a chance to create another misguided opinion. Our goals should surround such education, especially starting with early childhood education, as children will be growing up in an age where social media rules. If adults now choose not to become media literate, at least those responsible for the future will be prepared.