Social media misleading students during election

The overuse of biased feeds on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook may be clouding an already divisive election

The constant refreshing of feeds and elections news dominated most students time during the U.S. elections (Name/Photo Clay Banks on Unsplash)
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By Tyson Burrows

Langara second-year business management student Kordan Do tries to avoid social media when it comes to the news.

Social media websites like Twitter has begun marking claims of election fraud as disputed in an attempt to caution against the spread of disinformation. Despite the concern, many students still turn to social media to inform themselves.

“There are tons of misleading statements and misinformation [on social media],” said Do. “[It] drive[s] me crazy.”

Paul Prosperi, a political science instructor at Langara College, encourages students to go beyond Twitter and Facebook feeds when looking for information regarding the news.

“They’re just using social media as a way of finding out about […] the election and the counting,” Prosperi said. “I would encourage people to check out some of the news sites [and to] dive a little deeper [and go] beyond their social media feeds.”

Prosperi highlighted news and analysis site FiveThirtyEight as a “great resource” and alternative for “some fantastic analysis that is being done in real time.”

Students aware of the bias of social media

Langara second-year environmental studies student Emily Crowley has “been following the U.S. election pretty closely.” Despite trying to balance her sources of information, she finds that she still spends more time on social media than on news websites.

Crowley thinks that social media makes news more easily accessible but understands that it comes with problems.

“On the whole, I know that I’m getting most of my news from the sources I want to follow,” Crowley said. “I tend to follow more liberal, left-wing people, so that’s the opinion of everything that I’m getting.”

Similarly, Langara second-year library and information technology student Lindsay Stone feels as if social media narrows the scope of the information she receives.

“I don’t even expose myself to what anyone on the polar end of scale reads,” Stone said. “I don’t even know what their point of view is.”

Both Crowley and Stone said that they tend to trust the sources that they follow and that they are more likely to fact-check information that doesn’t necessarily agree with their positions.

But in the case of the 2020 U.S. election, Crowley said she was surprised by the results.

“I was like is this real? Is it actually going well? So even the news that was giving me what I wanted to hear, I was still not one hundred per cent trusting of it right away.”

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