Finding Truth or Fiction on the Internet

Let me be honest … there are an unfortunate number of things I read on a regular basis that are upsetting to me. What is wild to me is that, despite interconnectedness through globalization and access to all of this information, so many of us choose to believe the first stories we see that pop into our news feed. Despite access to information, we do not try to research or consider sources (at least not as often as we could or maybe should). Extremist perspectives on both ends of the political and religious spectrums, both locally and abroad, can be very disturbing. As a result, lies crop up on the internet with frequency which perpetuates all kinds of fear.

head in sand

We have access to all of this information through social media, mainstream media, or one-off sites which claim to be news outlets. Yet so much of what we each access has so much spin. How can we ever remain diligent to try to find truth in all of the stories that are presented to us?


A link to an article recently (mid-April) popped into my news feed that gave me pause, and I bit. I clicked on the link, while keeping in mind who shared it and considering the tendency that individual has to post stories from a particular viewpoint. This is the story I read: “BREAKING: ISIS Camp Discovered in Mexico, Just Miles from US Border.”

two blindersThe story was unbelievable…and not unbelievable in an “I’m awe-struck” kind of way, but literally unbelievable…far-fetched and not plausible. In fact, the primary article referenced within the link I saw has no sources of information. It isn’t even a matter of the existence of credible sources. There are just not sources.

The link I read does a great job of re-quoting certain bits of information from other sites to back their stance. However, those same stories being re-quoted for a focused purpose include contrary information that is conveniently excluded from the original article I read. For instance, although appearing alongside a quote suggesting that militants were allegedly using Twitter and other social media to communicate about a U.S. invasion via Mexico, the following did not appear in the fear-mongering article:

“U.S. intelligence officials said they are skeptical that Mexican drug cartels would let jihadists use their turf or delivery routes to attack the U.S.” (Bloomberg Business, 2014).

A quick Google-search for “ISIS in Mexico” pulls up links to Snopes.com and PolitiFact.com, each reporting the falsities in this story. Additionally, several of the links referred to as “sources” in the original link I read a couple of weeks ago have subsequently added disclaimers in that the story is “unfounded” and lacks “credible information.”


truthSo why is it so difficult to research polarizing stories before automatically clicking on the re-share button? I respect that we are not going to agree on every bit of information that appears to us through the internet, but I believe we have it in us to take those few minutes it requires to try to substantiate any story that may perpetuate lies and undue fear. Let us at least try to share information with honesty and integrity.

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2 thoughts on “Finding Truth or Fiction on the Internet

  1. I share some of your concerns. People will not fact-check before they share links on social media. I’m not sure this will change any time soon. This is one reason I have stopped using Facebook in the past year and a half. Because the people passing on bad information are your friends and family. Instead of trying to correct them, which ultimately leads to quagmire, I chose to withdraw from the consumption cycle.

    Just as I wish people would check things before sharing, I wish the content creators would be more careful with what they present as news. I guess that’s a silly thing to wish for in a world where people aren’t accidently misleading others, they are doing it intentionally.

    1. Haha … those last words, I think, hit the nail on the head. While it’s nice to wish for honesty, even some of those content creators professing falsities may even believe their intentions are in the right.
      I haven’t quite given up on trying to share alternate perspectives, but I appreciate why you stepped away from FB.

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