I blame the internet for the upsurge of disturbing news. Years ago, just newspapers printed the news along with a few reputable magazines such as Time and Newsweek . For the most part, …
I blame the internet for the upsurge of disturbing news. Years ago, just newspapers printed the news along with a few reputable magazines such as Time and Newsweek. For the most part, the articles were informational, and I liked reading about what was going on in the community, the state, and the country. Every now and then there would be a story about a murder or a burglary, but the information was never graphic or blown out of proportion. That is why I still love reading newspapers like the Warwick Beacon and the Cranston Herald. They may contain some disturbing stories, such as about the senseless drownings that have taken place in Conimicut and Buttonwoods, or a horrific fatal car accident, but stories ARE news and are told factually.
The internet has unleashed a whole host of sites that spout news stories that are sensationalized and sometimes unbelievable, or, worse yet, believable but completely false. Many sites embellish news and are often downright deceitful when it comes to informing the public. My opinion is that these exaggerated and embellished stories are contributing to the unease many people feel, as well as causing fractions among the community. For instance, people around the dinner table used to talk about common, everyday topics, but are now spouting differing opinions that may have been formed after reading downright incorrect information.
Social media has posted that the Democratic Party has just confirmed that Michelle Obama will be their next nominee for president. Or the news story that the deadly wildfires in Maui were caused by “government agencies” that deliberately started the fire using a laser beam.
Social media sites shared a range of false claims this week. There was one clip of President Joe Biden purportedly admitting to selling “state secrets” taken from an interview which edited out the part where he laughed and said he was joking. One “news” video stated deadly mosquitoes were released by helicopter over a Baltimore music festival as it showed a helicopter hovering over the concert goers. The facts are the bugs were not only NOT released by helicopters, and were NOT mosquitos at all, but were harmless, although pesty, gnats. The “news” showed revelers in the park jumping around, waving hats, blankets, and other items to prevent the onslaught of bugs from “eating them alive.” The Baltimore Department of Health has subsequently reported that there were no reported mosquito-borne illnesses as the result of the onslaught of bugs.
There was also a false claim, reportedly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that at least 118,000 children and young adults have “died suddenly” from the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is an early warning system for vaccine side-effects, reports the truth is 970 children and adults have died after receiving the vaccine, but even that number may be inflated because some of those individuals were already sick with COVID. Compare that to the more than 65 million people who received the shot and did not get the virus, and the one million, one hundred and thirty who did not get the vaccine and died from COVID. (In the spirit of complete truth, some of those who reportedly died from COVID may have had underlying medical conditions which contributed to their deaths.)
Many people think they can spot “fake news”, but a study has demonstrated that they cannot. For instance, which of these following stories from the internet are true?
• The cancer industry is not looking for a cure, they are too busy making money.
• Scientists warn people to stop eating Instant Noodles due to cancer and stroke risks.
• Ginger is more effective at killing cancer than chemotherapy.
• The Los Angeles Police Department announced a big purchase on the cutting edge of crowd control, the Martin Jetpack.
All the statements above are untrue. Wikipedia describes fake news as false or misleading information presented as news. “The goal is often to damage the reputation of a person or entity, and to make more money through advertising revenue.” This type of news misleads the public and creates paranoia, fear, and suspicion. It causes heated discussions in the lunchroom and around the family dining room table and can put a strain on relationships. For myself, rather than use the internet to get false information, I will play a nice, safe game of solitaire.