The Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year is post-truth –defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’ Although the term ‘post-truth’ is new, propaganda and false information have always existed. BUT, the ways in which we receive and share news and information have changed dramatically. Unfortunately, how we analyze and ensure the credibility of news stories has not kept pace with rapid changes in how information flows. This has left us suffering from a huge deficit of media literacy! So much so, that many people don’t even know to think about whether or not the “facts” they see are valid. They just react from their emotions and share, share, share! (Which is exactly what the messages are designed to make them do.) And, that is dangerous! Ultimately, a manipulated and misinformed public is more likely to act against the interests of themselves, their communities, their nations and even the world. Now is the time for citizens to build media literacy and become smarter, more discerning news consumers.

© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766