BOSTON (CBS) – Would you like to head into the weekend with a bit of good news to share? For those of you rightly worried about the spread of misinformation and falsehood throughout our culture and the apparent inability of too many of us to distinguish between lies and truth, I have good news on a couple of fronts.
Up on Beacon Hill, legislators are working on a bill that would promote civics education in our schools, including lessons on how to evaluate news content. At a time when adults are struggling to differentiate between real and fake news coverage, their kids could certainly use some help understanding the difference between lies and rumors on social media and actual journalism.
Another hopeful sign: two new studies find that a large majority of Americans know that much of the alleged news spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets is fabricated or unverified. More than half that many also disbelieve what they see on conventional news outlets, which is too many, but at least they give edited, established sources more credit than the garbage on the web.
Now, the bad news – those studies also find that almost a quarter of us share misinformation, and that political partisans are much more likely to swallow lies and dismiss truth. And they also find that the more education you have, the less likely you are to shun the truth, a finding that underscores the importance of the Legislature’s education initiatives.
There’s an old saying that a lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. It’s up to us to deter the former and promote the latter.