Media is all around us at all times. Every screen we have is a source of information: from the big screen on your wall, to the small screen in your pocket. According to corparitech.com, “the average American spends 7 hours and 11 minutes looking at a screen every day” (CompariTech). We are more surrounded by media than ever. Simultaneously, public trust in media is falling rapidly. The old phrase was “don’t trust everything you read on the internet” but our former President taught us that even mainstream media is “fake news.” If Americans are not trusting the journalists who dedicate their lives to providing the facts, then who do they trust?
People begin to trust their opinions. Whatever is entertaining to them, which is an opinion, becomes their source of news. Much of FOX and MSNBC’s airtime has been filled with entertainment/opinion shows rather than factual news shows. Much of the internet is littered with ill-informed opinions of people who are not journalists. Much of the American public is only hearing opinion and adopting others’ opinions rather than forming their own from facts presented to them by journalists.
This becomes problematic when opinions are spread maliciously with intent to manipulate the audience. On Facebook, it has been proven that false political advertising has been allowed. If the advertiser pays, chances are that Facebook will run it. The New York Times reports that “Social media in general does not cause an eating disorder. However, it can contribute to an eating disorder” (New York Times). YouTube has advanced algorithms intended to keep you on the app for longer even if that means suggesting more and more conspiracy theory videos. The cumulation of misinformation has resulted in a culture of misinformed people, fueling hate and polarization, and resulting in a lower quality of life and even death when people act on these false narratives.
As of now, America is simply continuing down this same road of distrust in journalism. Facebook, whom we thought was spiraling out of control after their recent whistleblower in the fall of 2021, is now rebranding as Meta. Meta plans on immersing us all in an augmented reality, where we live a virtual life. This takes the already existing flaws of social media and surrounds us with them completely. It is scary to see the trust people have in a brand that has consistently acted immorally.
Moving forward, private corporations and public government must regulate social media and support true journalism. In 2020, the Washington Post reported that the Federal Communication Commission is “rethink[ing] the legal shield that applies to social media sites” (Washington Post) when referring to Section 230. The FCC should continue these restrictions and require channels to reach a certain standard of factual information to use the term “news” in their broadcast. They could also require social media apps to explicitly label misinformation as such. Our democracy cannot function without journalist’s questioning power and the public deserves to hear the truth. Algorithms meant to lock people in a filter bubble are wildly profitable for brands, but vastly immoral and threatening to our democracy. Where will the road ahead of us lead?
Eating Disorders and Social Media Prove Difficult to ... New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/technology/social-media-eating-disorders.html.
Romm, Tony. “FCC Push to Rethink Legal Protections for Tech Giants Marks Major Turn amid Months of Political Pressure.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 16 Oct. 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/16/fcc-facebook-twitter-section-230/.
“Screen Time Statistics: Average Screen Time in US vs. the Rest of the World.” Comparitech, 8 June 2021.
Sean Morin is a senior at Sacred Heart University graduating with degrees in Media Arts and Communication Studies. His interests include photography, film and production as well as politics and current events. His learning at Sacred Heart has taught him to pay attention to details and always question sources. Morin has also gained knowledge through multiple internships in the field with NBC Sports on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Cannondale and GT Bicycle’s on marketing photography, MUD Magazine and Only In Boston. He plans on pursuing a career in media production in the Washington DC area with a mission to promote truth and education in entertainment.