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“Don’t trust everything you see, even salt looks like sugar”. This quote has a variety of relevant applications relating to how a person processes information throughout their lives. This quote has been around for a long time as it was something my grandfather told me at a young age. I used to mainly associate it with people, places, and ideas but have since seen its relevance more than ever on social media platforms today. In today's society, it is hard to decipher what is salt and what is sugar since so much of the information being shared on social media is a false representation of what is actually true. This can be seen through edited photos, biased news stories, and fake accounts.
The first way in which social media has changed the way people share information is through the constant posting of edited photos on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. These platforms have transitioned from genuine sharing services into highlight reels where individuals only feel comfortable posting the perfect images with the perfect lighting, filter, and bodily effects applied. Apps have since been created to allow users to increase the size of certain body parts so that an image can falsely make a person look more desirable to viewers. The hard part about this is that since so many people are currently doing it, posting a genuine unedited picture without those effects would stand out and perhaps deter one from receiving the response and or gratification that they seek. As a result of this false representation of oneself, thanks to the editing capabilities that social media provides, information is now shared and received differently by most users worldwide.
Biased news stories have been manipulated and intensified through social media and are another factor as to how social media platforms have affected the way information is shared. Although Instagram can verify the authenticity of some accounts they do not possess the same regulations pertaining to the truthfulness and accuracy of published content that some of the reputable news organizations have to abide by. Therefore essentially any user or account can post whatever information they see fit based on their own personal agendas. This has led rise to an increase in fake news published on social media platforms, designed to grab the attention of users and persuade them into certain agendas. This is problematic because social media is so easily accessible and with so many users worldwide viewing fake news on a daily basis, users will eventually not be able to decipher the difference between real and fake information shared.
Lastly, over the past few years, there has been an increase in fake accounts being created on social media as well as an increase in the content being released on those fake accounts. These accounts are often created with malicious intent designed to attack and torment people anonymously. This can be seen through fake “catfish” accounts, anonymous trolling accounts, or even accounts claiming to be girls revealing explicit pictures of themselves. All of which deliberately put out information that is untrue and is designed to negatively affect other users.
Social media and its lack of restriction allows users the ability to publicly manipulate information into anything they want. At times this can be beneficial as creative users use this freedom to put out inspiring content. However, in today’s society, it is all too common for users to abuse that freedom by publishing untruthful information based on a variety of reasons. If this continues to increase, the information shared on these platforms will be so hard to decipher that one will be unable to tell what information is salt and what is sugar.
Sean Ferrari, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: "How has social media changed the ways we share information?" The class covers copyright and social media. Sean is an Advertising major.
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