Teaching Media Literacy In The US – Protection Against False News
by William Jackson
The admission of Social Media companies providing content space to foreign countries that disseminate fake news or propaganda that is intentional to influence the perceptions of Americans is a reality. Social Media is being manipulated to suit the desires of foreign entities with malicious intent.
Companies that specialize in the distribution of global content have more access to individuals than any governmental body in history. It is always interesting that individuals and families will put all their family history and personal information
in an unfiltered digital environment, but are dishonest with their tax information and when census takers come calling. False and fake news has been and still is being created and allowed to move through the Internet.
Distorted truths to create changes in the minds of Americans that have shown to affect their perceptions and understanding of the political process, individuals running for political office, and even the balance of power and power projection. The results are being seen in the thoughts and actions of Americans questioning the electoral process that has been in place for this country for decades.
The electoral process is not a perfect system and does need modification and adaptation; the integration and manipulation of technology are creating apprehension and even fear that foreign countries can pay a price literally to create false and/or misleading content.
This content is being directed at Americans who lack the skill to decipher and comprehend the intent.
Media literacy and understanding is important and relevant to mass communication courses. Teaching students is becoming part of educational curriculums in high school and higher education to school future students on how to recognize false information.
Teaching students to analyze content and not take it for face value is designed to teach students to potentially recognize propaganda, but that is a challenge with so many students that are struggling with reading comprehension and relevancy.
Students must be taught the hows and whys of questioning posted content: how to evaluate sources for validity, accuracy, and truth.
Students must have the skill-sets to regurgitate what they are reading and listening to, and find out where the information originated. Content can be manipulated to the point where false information can be perceived to be real; as Malcolm X once stated, the media can manipulate information and perceptions to where you will love those that try to colonize your mind and hate those trying to free your mind.
Great authors and educators like Chinua Achebe (Father of African Literature) even before the Internet spoke of how the British used books to shape and mold the minds of Africans who could read.
To control the minds there was control of what was being read and how cultures, genders, and races were perceived and even how those being colonized perceived themselves. Students in Mass Communications or Media and even Social Media curricula in higher education are in danger of being manipulated themselves if instructors, teachers, and administrators do not include in their curriculums how to recognize false information. Students should be required to blog, create Podcasts, and even video blogs to understand the process so they can see, hear, and experience the process of creating media virtually. It is not just important to read, but comprehension
and relevancy are needed skills.
If false, fake, and manipulated news is allowed to be posted on Social Media feeds, people will begin to mistrust mainstream media affecting the reputations of news reporters, news anchors, and media companies.
The results could lead to total distrust of accuracy and accountability for the media that reports on the heartbeat of this country. It is extremely dangerous when citizens cannot trust their media outlets and Social Media businesses that provide daily content. Allowing propaganda to spread like a virus to infect the minds of Americans and even
globally is reprehensible and irresponsible. The ramifications could be tragic and far-reaching for media companies and their continued survival.
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