Teenagers, considered to belong to the social media generation, failed a test given by Stanford University during the aftermath of the controversy regarding fake news that swayed the tide of US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
The test aimed to determine if young social media users can differentiate fake news from real news. The researchers asked the participants in the study to evaluate materials from the internet which covered comment sections, social media feeds, photographs, and blog posts.
Results reveal that the subjects failed in the tests given, according to Mashable.
It seems that failure of students to differentiate fake news from real news may be a threat to democracy considering that wrong information regarding issues of national importance was allowed to be published on the internet, according to Ed Week.
The findings of the research study had triggered an alarm because most students nowadays rely on the internet for all information that they need. They usually consider the ranking in Google as an indication that the website is giving useful and correct information.
While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg already started to take measures against the proliferation of misinformation in his social media website, this might not be enough. Hiring fact checkers and implementing sanctions against advertisers that post false news might not stop fake news from being posted online.
It is imperative that users of social media must act like fact checkers, which means not to just rely on one source but to check other sources to verify the truth of the information given, according to NPR Org.
This means that people using social media platforms must be aware that what is being fed to them might be distorted information and they should verify them first before they accept them as true.
With harsh measures to be meted to those who post lies on social media and users' awareness of their role as users, fake news can be stopped from influencing people's decisions.