5 things to ask yourself before reposting or repeating
Much of the current campus political discussion and news consumption takes place on social media. The fact that everyone can share their own viewpoint (or agree to an existing one) with whomever they want is a marvel of modern technology. It also creates a breeding ground for misinformation and harmful personal attacks, contributing to students feeling unsafe on our campus. So, in light of the recent Israel-Hamas war, the Student Life Editorial Board suggests various ways to navigate what can be a confusing and potentially damaging social-media landscape.
1. Where did this information come from?
The simplest way to avoid fake news is by checking who posted it. Everyone should be wary of reading and posting anonymous information. An anonymous post, like those on Sidechat (which is currently flooded with misinformation), signals to viewers that the information is most likely not something the user would share with their name attached to it, making it much more likely to be untrue and damaging. While we may not be able to track every Instagram infographic back to its source, it is at least worthwhile to ensure that it is coming from somewhere other than the writer’s imagination.
2. Is this information accurate?
Misinformative posts are often riddled with skewed numbers, false equivalencies, and correlation being mistaken for causation. By checking sources and learning to spot fallacies, we can avoid being manipulated by blatantly wrong data. Even reputable news sources can get things wrong, so check if a story gets updated or corrected.
3. Does this information incite personal attacks or violence?
Voicing your opinion is one thing, but inciting violence or targeting specific people is another. It is never okay to encourage attacks on individuals or groups. Not only is it highly offensive, but it is also poor argumentation. Attacking the person and not the argument is often a sign that the opposition has run out of substantive arguments. Instead, we should focus on using our voices to make positive change, not to inspire aggression. Comments that target or harass students based on identity directly contribute to students feeling unsafe on this campus. We should strive for a safe environment for our peers.
4. Am I willing to engage in dialogue regarding this issue outside of social media?
If you repost something to your Instagram story or mention a statistic you saw on TikTok, you should be prepared for someone to disagree with you, both online and in person. Consider if what you are repeating is something you’d want to stand behind in a conversation.
5. Why am I repeating or reposting this?
In today’s age, social media is a powerful tool that can have positive impacts, spreading information quickly and keeping people up-to-date on current events. However, while it is an effective place for outreach, it is not a reliable place to go to as one’s sole source of research and information.
There are many reasons why we might make our opinions known on social media. Spreading awareness is incredibly important, and showing your own personal support for a cause that you care strongly about is perfectly reasonable. However, if you are posting in hopes of engaging in hostile debate, attacking others, or feigning interest in a topic that you, overall, remain uneducated on, we encourage you to reconsider and reflect upon your potential role in the spread of misinformation.
In general, we should seek sources other than Instagram, X, TikTok, and Sidechat (alongside other social media sites designed for anonymity) for information. Additionally, we stress the importance of critical engagement with any sources, both within and outside of social media. What might a source be motivated by? How might those motivations shape what information a source chooses to share, or not share? Awareness of misinformation involves not only fact-checking of information, but also examination of the sources themselves.
The opportunity to share our beliefs and causes that we support on the internet is a privilege, and we have a responsibility to stop the spread of misinformation and fake news to the best of our ability, especially as it relates to the lives of real people.
Staff editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of our editorial board members. The editorial board operates independently of our newsroom and includes members of the junior and senior staff.
Jared Adelman, Managing Multimedia Editor
Amelia Raden, Junior Forum Editor
Alice Gottesman, Senior Scene Editor
Sylvie Richards, Senior Forum Editor
Reilly Brady, Managing Forum Editor
Jordan Spector, Junior Forum Editor
Hussein Amuri, Managing Sports Editor
Ian Heft, Sports Editor
Elias Kokinos, Sports Editor