Letter to the Editor: Fake News

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I attended a recent forum on Fake News (March 22, SLC main library) and was, frankly, disappointed. I wanted to hear practical advice on combatting fake news. USU Professor Matt LaPlante offered the only real suggestion:  Slow down.

I got fooled by fake news once that I know for sure. It was an odd, sensational story that (most importantly) confirmed my owns views and prejudices. I wanted to believe it. That should’ve been my first warning, but I ignored it. I copied the story and compounded the lie.

Professor LaPlante noted at the forum that if you spread the lie, you are yourself a liar. Shame on me.

Now when that little bird chirps on my shoulder I either Google the story to see if it’s more broadly reported, or I wait a day. Both allow me to “slow down” and examine things less emotionally. They also allow the story to develop. If it’s true it will probably be picked up by other news outlets; if they’re credible you can probably assume the story’s true.

Let’s face it: There are people on social media whose sole job is to manipulate us for politics or money. Ignore your first gut reaction. Be smart, think critically and use common sense. Slow down.

Scott Bell
West Jordan, UT

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