February 7, 2024
Search for the facts on platforms full of opinions.
Social media — a blessing and a curse. Anything you are looking for is just a click away, and most platforms are happy to recommend content based on their algorithm. With this much information at our fingertips, it is important to build healthy social media habits and not just succumb to hazards like echo chambers and doom scrolling.
So, how can we decipher who to trust and who to scroll past? Next time your favorite influencer pops up or an article makes its way onto your feed, use this checklist to make sure you are receiving credible information!
Consider the source.
Investigate the profile, account, website, or even contact info available to you. Gather more information before diving into the content presented. Does the author have certifications or education to speak on this topic? Review their followers, verification badges, and posting history to make note of any affiliations or conflicts of interest.
Beyond the content being shared, pay attention to the tone, evidence presented, date of resources (if any are provided) and if it leans toward certain biases. Another tip: double-check the grammar used by the author. While not definitive, poor grammar combined with typos can provide insight into the validity of the subject.
Follower count does not equate to expertise. Another tip for reading between the lines of social content is to keep an eye on excessive spam comments or hashtags. A large number of followers with low engagement on videos or postings can be an indication that the account has fake followers.
What is the feedback?
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs, but checking the comments, likes, and shares can give insight into how people feel about the topic presented. This approach can also help you dive deeper into the topic of discussion — commenters often link articles further supporting or critiquing the opinion presented.
As you review, here are some ways to gauge the feedback:
- Is it positive, negative or mixed?
- Is feedback offered in a way that is constructive and respectful?
- Or Critical and combative?
Typically, you can get a sense of how people feel on the topic by analyzing feedback sentiment.
When diving into the content, look to see if it is validated, argued, or complemented by other sources. Are there other accounts that provide the same information, or are people out to de-bunk the content?
Remember, don’t mistake opinions for facts. Do your research. Staying vigilant with your healthy social media habits will help you to control the information you consume — and help to ensure a safe online experience.