The internet has a way of undermining legitimate, reputable news sources. It seems to encourage people to rail about “the lamestream media” and to dismiss long-established news sources. The web, indeed, is prone to spreading false stories and misinformation. We need a general protocol, an internet hygiene, to escape from that sticky, malarial morass.
The methodology is simple. We set aside our knee-jerk populistic impulses and admit that some news sources are more legitimate than others. An example: the Washington Post is legitimate; it is a consistent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and is consistently reputable. Whereas Fox News does not win journalism prizes and has a very bad reputation in the journalism community.
Of course the New York Times and the Washington Post and MSNBC and so on make errors from time to time. Any news source will. But they are predominantly accurate. And, what is more, unlike Fox News and Alex Jones, they’re willing to regularly offer contrasting points of view, and to print retractions.
We need to be selective in our choice of raw information and how we share it…
It’s like this: Scientific American, yes; anti-vax numbskull sites no. Pulitzer Prize winning news outlets and legit alternative sources (like The Nation or the Guardian) yes; flaky promulgators of rumors and conspiracy theories no. Medical journals yes; covid conspiracy theory flakes, no. Anti-bigotry websites yes; racist websites no. That’s the pattern, the path through the wilderness that is the internet: Consistently going to legit, reputable sources of data.
We need to return to being choosy; to thinking twice about the sources before sharing. Because there is real-world fallout from the promulgation of lies. Conspiracy theories about Covid-19 can actually cause needless deaths. Anti-government conspiracy theories actually cause real-world violence.