An Online World: Use more reliable news sources

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Julia Moss” align=”alignnone” width=”617″] An Online World is a blog updated twice a month exploring the Internet’s effects on society and on our lives.
by Leah Budson

One week ago, I found my Facebook News Feed filled with hundreds of statuses regarding the the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

This tragedy was not the first major news event I have discovered through Facebook. Earlier this year, I had found out on Facebook who won this year’s presidential elections, that Hurricane Sandy was about to hit and about former Underwood teacher David Ettlinger’s arrest before I read these things in an official news source.

Although Facebook certainly serves as an effective way to quickly hear about news, the possibility of it replacing outside sources is frightening. The convenience of Facebook prevents us from using more reliable and accurate resources to find information. Unlike news sources, who are able to interview sources directly or use fact checking methods, posts on Facebook give us no assurance of accuracy.
For example, a few months ago when I felt the Maine earthquake, my first instinct was to look on Facebook to see who else had felt it, even though I could have found more accurate information on a more reliable news source like Boston.com. I am so used to logging onto Facebook when I open a web browser that I didn’t even question which site would best provide me with the most reliable information. Although people’s statuses did manage to tell me that others had felt the tremor, everyone else on the site was just as ignorant as I was as to what exactly the tremor was and where it had originated.
Similarly, when Hurricane Sandy arrived, many students continuously posted asking whether or not school was cancelled yet, instead of simply checking the school website. This annoyingly flooded Facebook News Feeds with statuses about the possible cancellation, leaving the posters without the information that they could have easily found elsewhere.
Even when students are looking to find what homework was assigned in a class, instead of going to a teacher’s website, they post asking others for what was assigned.
Students should use teachers’ websites to find assignments and news sites like Boston.com and this news source for news. If people don’t know where to start, search engines like Google and Bing are designed to help find information. Facebook is a social network, intended for communication with others, but it is not the most reliable site to find information on.

Next time you open up a Internet window looking for the answer to a question, consider which site will be the most helpful––in the end, you will save time and find more accurate information.