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Editorial: Fighting the fake news fiasco

On Oct. 27, Elon Musk officially bought Twitter, setting off a wave of changes to the platform. Notably, the subscription to the oft-forgotten Twitter Blue now includes the coveted “blue checkmark” that used to indicate validity, but now can be bought for a small fee.

Since verification on Twitter can now be purchased for eight dollars per month, it’s important to check whether or not these users earned it or paid their way to that status. There have already been cases of impersonation that have duped countless of users, with some garnering upwards of 20,000 likes. 

With any source, especially those you find on Twitter and social media in general, check the bio to make sure it’s not a parody account. Tapping on the account’s check mark in their profile will allow users to see if verification was given due to their status or because they paid for Twitter Blue. 

Musk has said that accounts not clearly labeled as parody will be banned, including those that parody him, but that doesn’t stop the misinformation from being spread. Social media moves quickly, and in a matter of minutes, a simple joke tweet could be interpreted as fact.

It’s also important to make sure that multiple sources are reporting the same thing. For example, if you see a tweet saying The Scout is disbanding, back it up by going to a credible news site or searching for the term on Twitter to see if anyone else is saying it. Or, in this case, go to The Scout directly.

Musk permanently suspending users parodying him without clearly stating so in their accounts is reminiscent of an incident closer to the Hilltop. In 2015, Peoria mayor Jim Ardis sent the police to raid a Peoria resident Jon Daniel’s home after Daniel unleashed a rash of obscene tweets while impersonating the mayor.

Given the deluge of media backlash that Ardis received, it’s unlikely that Musk will take such a brash stance against these types of accounts, making it more important than ever to double check the facts.

Remember to practice media literacy and analyze media messages accurately. Misinformation can have wide-ranging effects and lead to warped perceptions, differing opinions and ignorance, so be sure to always do your research.

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