In class, we discussed how a lot of individuals receive their news from social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even Snapchat. We mentioned how you can even watch the presidential debates live on several of these platforms! Getting our news from social media sources seems silly when you first hear it, but it does make sense, as social media is usually what dominates most of our internet usage. I’m sure we’ve all found out about a current news topic from social media, whether it’s local news from your hometown when a Facebook friend shared an article or wrote a status stating their thoughts on the issue, or national, through the use of “trending” hashtags. The issue with this, and all of media, is that it can distort the truth and include bias, misleading readers to the outcomes they want us to hear or read, and how we should perceive it based upon heir framing, language, and emphasis.
Boston University explains this with the term, “scienceploitation,” where the true science is dumbed down to a version for the general public, and commonly paired with a catching, “clickbait” headliner. Another classmate already mentioned The Washington Post’s Article “The Media is Ruining Science,” and how the media occasionally disguises online polling with real scientific studies, and since it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? (/s)
Boston University conducted a nationwide study comparing scientific accuracy and how it is perceived on social media while using antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as an example. The study found that “the more frequently respondents reported posting and sharing any information online to social media, they were increasingly likely to be highly misinformed about AMR,” and that we are more likely to believe what we see online if it is shared from our friends and family, as it commonly is on social media platforms.
Another interesting point made by Boston University is splitting the blame of the public/science miscommunication with the scientists themselves. They state that the “disconnected arrogance […] turns off the public and does not get them excited about learning more.” This idea can relate to the majority of the public being scientifically illiterate, which we also spoke about in class. The distance between scientists and the general public is perpetuated through use of the internet and various media outlets, as it allows us to ignore the topics we do not understand (so we can avoid feeling unintelligent) and gives us more opportunity to choose to believe the misleading information put out by the media.
By Amanda Hecker
- http://www.wfsj.org/course/en/L10/L10P00.html (image credit)