North Texas Daily

How to be aware of misinformation and bias

How to be aware of misinformation and bias

How to be aware of misinformation and bias
September 24
10:00 2020

In today’s society news and information travel fast through the various platforms that exist to emit news. From cable news to social media and news apps on one’s phone, access to information has never been quicker. However, quick access to news and information can also contribute to the quicker spread of misinformation and bias in media. 

Misinformation and media bias represents a big challenge today especially during times of political upheaval or public health crisis. Currently, this has presented a great problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of misinformation that has spread during the pandemic has created mass chaos across the United States and has contributed to the thousands of cases and deaths that have occurred. The spread of misinformation during this pandemic makes it very difficult for individuals living in the U.S. to move forward and try to get the COVID-19 virus under control when President Trump is saying that masks are not needed or that the virus is just like the flu when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying that the COVID-19 virus is deadly and widespread. 

This form of misinformation is extremely negligent. When Trump says something different than what the CDC is saying, his statements can discredit the validity of the information that the CDC is relaying to the public given the position of power he is in. Rhetoric is one of the many forms that contribute to the rapid spread of misinformation because it can easily discredit someone else and confuse individuals on what the true piece of information is. 

The use of certain rhetoric is also a way in which bias can be introduced in the media. For example, news networks like Fox News use rhetoric that portrays conservative bias, and thus, their audience is likely to be more conservative. The same can be said for networks like CNN except they are more liberally biased. Bias in the media presents a problem because usually there are always two sides to the situation and when bias is introduced in news reporting usually one party is misrepresenting facts, suppressing facts or lying

Each news source will lean to a certain ideology, whether it pertains to political affiliations or not. This becomes a problem when the reader or viewer gets their news and information from one news source instead of various ones. Getting information from various news sources can increase your credibility and also present you with all the facts of the topic, situation or issue that is being discussed. 

Misinformation also has various forms of occurrence in media outlets and social media. In social media apps like Twitter, bots, which are a type of software that runs a Twitter account, can sometimes help propagate fake news and misinformation and increase the concept of fake news. Bots can help spread misinformation by using trending hashtags and tweet the same pieces of false information under real accounts. Bots spread false information through high profile accounts or trending hashtags because they can broadcast their tweet at high volumes, therefore, giving the piece of information more views. 

It is important to not pay attention to accounts like these because many times they try to make comments or spread information that will appeal to the emotions of the real person. By interacting with these accounts one is giving them credibility. In today’s society, it is difficult to avoid media bias and misinformation. However, there are ways we can be aware of bias and misinformation. We know news sources can be biased so it is always best to read multiple sources to make sure you are getting all the facts. Misinformation can be spread through doctored photos, political polarization, bot accounts, the use of rhetoric to downplay situations or discredit another entity and many other forms. Being aware of how false information spreads can help individuals stop spreading false information whether it’s accidental or not and can be beneficial in the long run.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Eunice Hernandez

Eunice Hernandez

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