The modern era has seen another sphere known as online become a critical component in connecting societies, friends, families as well as strangers. Online technologies have proven to cause shifts in the world of politics and beliefs. However, the change has not been straight especially in situations where information is twisted, filtered or manipulated in various ways thus affecting its authenticity. For this reason, some of the online information may prove to be unreliable in the field of academics as well as civil dialogue. Fake news and political dialogue have a tendency of misinforming the public, and at a personal level, distorted information limits capacity to acquire knowledge. This paper will delve into the effects of manipulation of online contents with more specificity on a personal level.
The internet has proven to be one of the most entertaining and engaging technologies that have converted the globe into a global village. The internet has allowed sharing of information from one geographical location to another. However, the exchange of information and files via the internet has been infested by piracy and several attacks. By the time information gets to the second or third party, there is likelihood that the content may have been subjected to manipulation. The result of the situation at a personal level is receiving misleading information.
A valid reason exists as to why most academic assignments discourage the use of some online contents such as those from Wikipedia. Some of these sites have made it very easy for anonymous users to publish content which might be misleading (Higgins). Some of the contents of such websites may contain researched information, rumors, myths and misconceptions. Specifically, the science fields where information bases on research, information from untrusted sites such as Wikipedia are extremely discouraged. Another sensitive area on the internet is the blog, which has allowed people to post different kinds of information. Some blogs have reliable news while others are out to capture the attention of the audience basing on unrealistic information. Little has been done to determine the authenticity of the blogs yet still more people create and publish blogs on the internet. The political arena has greatly been affected by blogs in a sense that wrong political claims have been published on the internet via blogs. At a personal level, such kind of information is always entertaining and misleading at the same time. Bloggers have found a free space to express their political notions as well as perceptions, which may not necessarily be correct. It has always been difficult to differentiate correct information from correct information in most of the online resources. Unique cases exist for dedicated sites such as Google Scholar and online journal databases. Blogs have been used to relay wrong political information capable of misleading the public perception with the recent case being the 2016 general election in the US.
Impact on students and learning
According to Donmonoske, children are considered as the future, but a threat exists that the future might be built on ill-information. The article claims that a study conducted by researchers from Stanford established that student faces a challenge of differentiating online resources. This situation has been identified as a direct threat to democracy. A crisis dubbed as fake new crisis has emerged which misinform the public of all ages, and the young generation stands to lose a lot. The shocking part of the research revealed that students were unable to engage high-level analysis in identifying fake and real accounts. Students also proved to be ignorant when it came to differentiating ads from articles and activist groups sources from a neutral source. For instance, students at the middle-class level were established to be unable to differentiate ads from content. It has been argued that students are easily convinced by a well-polished section containing information of a particular website. The About section was established to convince students despite the fact that the contents of the website lack references. Most students at high school level were established to have a tendency of accepting photographs with no concern of verifying the sources. Identifying fringe and mainstream sources was a challenging task for most students from Stanford.
Impacts on political outcomes
One of the most interesting facts on the internet includes the news articles touching on politics (Sanders). Most people are attracted to such information regardless of the truth or falseness in the piece of information. Some online sources completely derail from the basic rules and code of conduct governing the media profession. According to Sanders, the social media has had a huge impact in changing the nature in which people interact with each other from different parts of the world. The social media has increased the rate at which a piece of information gets to the hands of many people around the world. The social media has affected the political environment, and an example of this case can also be drawn from the 2016 general elections (Sanders, Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?). Twitter and Facebook have been singled out as the two most dominant social media that have affected the political discourse in the US. The president-elect Donald Trump used these two social media to his advantage. The engagement in Twitter ensured that the US 2016 elections were one of the most unbearable elections in the modern era of politics (Sanders, Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?). Twitter and Facebook have the ability to engage factions in heated arguments, and this can have a greater impact on the political arena.
According to Higgins, the aspect of information and the truth concerning information has been a cause of alarm in recent years. The author claims that politicians have the audacity to lie and use online avenues to propagate these lies. The current generation has been referred to as the post-truth era in which lies are proliferated to the society. For instance, Higgin puts highlights the lie propagated my and American presidential candidate claiming that climate change is only a fallacy that requires not attention from the international community. Such claims have no scientific proof and are capable of affecting the perception of the young generations and students at large. The fact the young generation has witnessed Trump rise to power despite such negative allegations regarding climate change, this generation is likely to believe that the sentiments were true. More negative research is likely to be conducted to make the allegations appear to be true, which will be misleading. When political notions are well propagated via the internet, they have a tendency of engaging a lot of people. The perception of the masses, in turn, affects the general perception of the society. The current situation of the post-truth era can be blamed to epistemic relativism, which claims that the aspect of truth swings like a pendulum depending on the situation (Higgins). It can be widely agreed that for long, lies have been used by politicians as means of gaining political mileage such as in the case of Trump. Lies put politicians in the limelight and can be used to gauge the political stance concerning moral stance of a given society.
The aspect of post-truth has also been handled by Noe in the article that attempts to shade more light on this particular term that was trending for the better part of the year2016. The use of the term was not only common to the US election situation but also used in the wake of the Brexit campaign in the UK.
As stated before, the social media has been singled out as a media connecting a large number of people around the world and allows sharing of various forms of media (Tolentino). However, the social media has also been blamed for propagating immoral behavior such as lies and propaganda (Forestal and Philips). The social media is capable of spreading animosity especially in a political situation as witnessed in the recently concluded elections in the US.
At a personal level, several online sites have been identified as sites whose information can never be completely trusted. The degree of trust of information on social media such as Facebook is extremely low. A lot of people use Facebook and Twitter to spread propaganda, and the trend has been rampant in the recent years. Many people are conned via the social media, and this has been a signal capable of warning against trusting social media content. No information on the social media can directly be represented by a third party as true since the authenticity is difficult to establish. Personally, it has always been hard to propagate political information published on powerful social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The impact of the message to the society has more to do with the people that the online sites. However, some established news organizations have created their Facebook pages as well as Twitter accounts where they publish reliable information. For academic purposes, there are dedicated sites that provide reliable information. The social media can best be used as an entertainment media for people around the world. It is always hard to believe how the social has a high affinity as well as the capacity to affect the way people perceive ideas. At a personal level, scientific methodologies and facts are more reliable compared unproven facts. However, the unproven facts on online platforms provide a rare opportunity for critical thinking which is also good.
Lives today are gradually changing as a result of the penetration of the internet technologies into the societies. People can access and exchange information via online platforms, and this has proven to affect social and political arenas. The alarming fact about the online media is the fact of trust, truth and authenticity. As established, most people have a challenge in establishing true, authentic and trustworthy information especially on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. At a personal level, the ongoing trend leaves no option but to treat some online platforms as entertainment platforms whose information cannot be trusted. It has been hard to believe how the post-truth era has ruled the world with US and UK as the best examples.
Donmonoske, Camila. "Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds." 2016. NPR. 15 January 2017 <http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real>.
Forestal, Jebifer and Menaka Philips. "People blame Facebook for fake news and partisan bile. Theyre wrong." 2016. The Washington Post. 15 January 2017 <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/12/16/people-blame-facebook-for-fake-news-and-partisan-bile-theyre-wrong/?utm_term=.96938eaf4540&wpisrc=nl_cage&wpmm=1>.
Higgins, Kathleeen. "Post-Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed- If politicians can lie without condemnation, what are scientists to do?" 2016. Scientific American. 15 January 2017 <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/post-truth-a-guide-for-the-perplexed/>.
Noe, Alve. "Is Being 'Post-Truth' A New Concept?" 2016. NPR: Cosmos and Culture. 15 January 2017 <http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/12/02/502542397/is-being-post-truth-a-new-concept>.
Sanders, Sam. "Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?" 2016. NPR. 15 January 2017 <http://www.npr.org/2016/11/08/500686320/did-social-media-ruin-election-2016>.
Tolentino, Jia. "The Worst Year Ever Until Next Year." 2016. The New Yorker. 15 January 2017 <http://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/the-worst-year-ever-until-next-year>.
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