Where do we get our information from?

Let’s imagine I asked this question 50 years ago. It wouldn’t really matter what age-group or socio-economic group I asked; the majority would say they get their information from an assortment of prior knowledge, books, newspapers and magazines and the government.

How has this changed for us today?  For me, I read the Economist, Die Spiegel (in English), New York Times, and the BBC news all online.  The only thing that has changed is the format I receive my information – I get my information online (on my netbook or on my phone) rather than through physical newspapers or magazines.

What hasn’t changed is the reliability of the information -the New York Times articles are just as reliable whether I read on a newspaper or online.

I came across an interesting article on BBC  which questions our ability to judge the accuracy of the information we receive through the internet.  This assertion was based on researchers asking high school students where they get typically get their information from, and how reliable they thought the information was.

The internet has facilitated the free flow of information (perhaps a good example of this is Wikipedia), but without no regard to the credibility or accuracy of the substance. The internet has no editor, no police.

Most of the interviewed students tell the researchers that they get most of their information from the first page of results from searching on google, youtube, and hearsay. What is more worrying is that they are far more likely to trust these information sources than information from traditional forms of media or the government.

This is the link to the original article (sorry I couldn’t embed the video).

Is too much information (facilitated by the internet) fueling disinformation?

What are the implications for government, and for wider society? Do governments have to wage publicity campaigns to improve their brand profile so that young people trust the information that they provide?

Information is only relevant if it is used – if the majority of people outside academic institutions gain most of their information through youtube videos about conspiracy theories, will this cause a disconnect from the thousands of years of accumulated knowledge that humanity has collectively amassed?

What can we/you do about this? Is internet censorship the way to go? Or do we list off information sources that we believe are accessible for youth, and are also credible?





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