Social media is a breeding ground for misinformation, hate speech, and falsehoods. Many individuals are concerned that the information they get from social media might influence those who are unable to discern between reality and fiction or news and propaganda.
Misleading information is at the forefront of this “infodemic,” which is fueling a raging political debate and worsening societal difficulties to the point of crisis.
In addition, according to the international human rights regime, fake news and misinformation are violations of a number of human rights. First, it violates a person’s right to knowledge, and second, it violates their right to choose and freedom of thought since it manipulates their understanding of an idea and does not allow them to make ‘essentially their own’ decisions.
A child who goes to school, sees the news blow the image of Muslims as terrorists as out of proportion. His parents who grew up watching the news have a similar mindset as do most people in his neighborhood. On his social media he finds various posts and articles filled with misinformation about Islam as a religion and the Muslim culture. Now this child who has been brainwashed by the misinformation and fake news he is being fed, kills a Muslim child. Although he made the decision to do so, against his better judgement the decision was influenced by a larger agenda.
However, a key moment is approaching when it comes to social media’s role in society, as these platforms and how we interact with them have changed.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are increasingly being utilized as sources of information rather than as a way to stay connected with one another. About six in 10 Americans use social media to get their news, but it’s not their sole source of information.
As a result, individuals are starting to wonder more and more about the reliability of the information they get through social media.
There’s a growing divide among political parties over where they fit in society and democracy on this issue. PTI and the PMLN in Pakistan, for example, use social media to promote their respective political agendas. Facebook, on the other hand, has resisted similar steps, even to the dismay of some of their own workers, in recent days, as Twitter has been more inclined to censor content like political advertisements and problematic tweets.
Who knows what’s going to happen now…
Social media platforms have come to take up so much of our lives that the decisions these platforms make now could have significant ramifications for the shape of the information environment and how we understand and engage with our worlds.