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Social media age brings new need to consider source

Consider the source.

That age-old message needs to be amplified in this modern world of technology, social media and instantaneous information.

As society continues its shift to the online world, we all need to be able to recognize what’s real and what’s not. We should not be fooled into believing something that has been disseminated via social media as satire or parody or something that has been written specifically to sway public opinion, regardless of the truth.

We would hope that people look at the website generating any article they are reading before they buy in. Is it coming from a trusted news organization with trained journalists, such as the Williamsport Sun-Gazette? Does the article name credible sources?

In this age when we are increasingly looking on the internet for information, Emily Moran, a Lycoming College instructional librarian, has been teaching her students what to observe while reading articles they come across.

“Fake news is fabricated information that mimics a news article in form but not purpose,” she told the Sun-Gazette.

Her lessons are a good thing and worthy of being duplicated. We would hope this sort of instruction is organically happening already. Calling attention to it in a formal setting serves a valuable purpose for all of society.

The concept of “fake news” is not new, after all. Rather, it’s a new term for propaganda, which has been around longer than the United States. Some say it was instrumental in the American Revolution and cite publications such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” pamphlet of 1776.

The truth is, it serves us all to be able to discern fact from fiction, or real news from information designed to influence people for the personal gain of another. And to that end, it has a dark side to which we are all vulnerable.

The best protection is to pay close attention to what we read and look for sources making the claims.

This is important not only during a presidential election year but for a freedom-loving people to survive the ages.

So consider the source. Then decide what to believe.

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