This past week, Newsy's parent company E.W. Scripps hosted its third annual National News Literacy Week, a campaign created to stop the spread of misinformation by helping people make informed decisions on the news they're consuming.
"We need to constantly be asking questions about the messages that we're receiving. We need to ask: Who's at the center of the message? Where did the message originate? Who's profiting from the message? What information is left out? How is the message designed to get my attention or make me think or feel certain way," said Julie Smith, instructor and media literacy expert from Webster University
"One of the biggest clues we can look for is if a message gives us a really strong, emotional response — that's the first clue that we should probably check it for authenticity," Smith continued.
Smith noted the importance of not just engaging in critical thinking, but owning ones biases and preconceived notions about messages before even receiving them. In what she said some call a "post-truth world," Smith said it is easy to find things that back up a stance even if untrue.
"We're in an interesting time now because false information has been around forever, but now it travels at the speed of light," Smith said. "And not only are we the consumers of it, but we are also the creators of it, so we need to be having these conversations in every classroom, every carpool lane, every kitchen table, about how to discern what is real, meaningful, valid and true online."
Studies show 70% of Americans share articles without reading them.
Smith said the idea of "performative sharing" describes people who quickly share something to seem like the first in the know, causing many to share links they haven't even clicked or verified.
"In many cases, in our online communities, we are with people who think, feel, believe and vote the way that we do," Smith said. "So it's very unlikely that we see a message we don't like, and if we really do like the message, we're less likely to check its authenticity."