In the Era of Digitalization, How Can One Evaluate Information as the Truth or a Hoax?

In the Era of Digitalization, How Can One Evaluate Information as a Truth or a Hoax by Safina Naz

The following article, In the Era of Digitalization, How Can One Evaluate Information as a Truth or a Hoax?“, is written by Safina Naz, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

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Outline

1- Introduction

  • ✓Digital media has revolutionised the means of information by replacing traditional modes with modern ones. 
  • ✓In the convenience-driven world, getting hands-on true information seems arduous; however, certain methods help trace the true information, making it possible to get rid of false information.  

2- A glimpse of digital information

3- How can information be assessed as a truth or a hoax?

  • ✓Using the art of digital information literacy
    • Case in point: Fake news about political parties is the biggest threat to democracy; thus, using digital information literacy can help eliminate fake news.
  • ✓Evaluating information using critical analysis skills
    • Case in point: In 2016, the New York Times published a report: “Donald Trump has won both the popular and electoral college votes.” However, the actual results were published in 2017.
  • ✓Knowing the perspective of different reputable sources about a particular information
    • Case in point: Reuters, the Associated Press, BBC News, and the Wall Street Journal are among the effective sources for getting true information.
  • ✓Relying on information sources that provide facts and figures and sources of evidence
    • Case in point: The facts and figures given by Al Jazeera during the years of the pandemic were more reliable than those given by local news channels of several countries.  
  • ✓Using fact-checking websites
    • Case in point: According to a report of Freedom Network (FN) Pakistan 2022, disinformation in Pakistan ranges from issues of national and regional significance, fake security threat warnings, fabricated official documents and rumours about top military personnel.

4- Critical Analysis
5- Conclusion

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Answer to the Question

Introduction

Digital media has revolutionised the means of information and replaced traditional modes with modern ones.  In the convenience-driven era, the world has rapidly shifted from decades-old sources of information, books and newspapers, to digital sources of information. According to the “Digital Around the World” report, “65.7 per cent of the world population uses the internet.” Hence, it indicates that most of the world’s population has shifted towards a digital world in all domains of life. In the current time, information about multiple domains, either academics or economy, can be assessed in no time through digital media. Although digital media usage has captivated the entire world, finding the information to be true or a hoax is a herculean task as digital media, along with a plethora of benefits, carries the burden of misinformation on its shoulders. However, attaining digital literacy, critically evaluating the information, and taking information from reliable resources are paramount for finding true information. Therefore, these methods must be considered while assessing whether the information is genuine or fake.

A glimpse of digital information

Starting with unearthing digital information, it includes all the data stored in computers and other digital media. Digital information covers a vast area, and anything that can be seen or heard can be digitised in no time. Hence, there is no denying the fact that all domains of life now fall under the digital category. Along with that, digital information is reproducible, flexible, and can be easily shared and modified. However, it has many loopholes as well that need to be addressed. Nowadays, information is only a click away from every individual, so getting true information out of all the information provided on digital media is tiring. Therefore, digital information carries the burden of misinformation on its shoulders. Nonetheless, certain checkpoints help in deftly checking the integrity of digital information. 

How can information be assessed as true or hoax?

Inculcating digital information literacy

Further, diving deep into the ocean of digital information, it is essential to interrogate the credibility of information. However, multiple methods help assess the nature of digital information as truth or hoax. Among them, digital information literacy is the most significant factor for identifying authentic digital information. It is the ability to recognise and access the accuracy of electronic information. Through digital information literacy, the assessment of digital information is carried out using digital devices, platforms, and tools. As an illustration, fake news about political parties is the biggest threat to democracy; thus, using digital information literacy can help eliminate fake news. Moreover, with the shift towards online learning, promoting digital literacy in educational institutions is equally important, making it possible for students to get true and reliable information. Hence, digital literacy is a prominent way to differentiate true information from false information.

Evaluating the information using critical analysis skills

Moreover, critical thinking makes it easier to identify the correct information. A fine line between scepticism and distrustfulness exists, helping to build critical thinking in an individual. Therefore, a healthy dose of scepticism is essential for critically evaluating digital information. Looking into evidence, in 2016, the New York Times published a report, “Donald Trump has won both the popular and electoral college vote.” However, the actual results were published in 2017. Looking deep into the situation and critically analysing the given information could have helped the masses get the true information. Further, critical thinking helps raise multiple questions regarding the source, intent, and validity of information, thereby paving the way towards navigating the authenticity of information. Thus, critical thinking is an essential element that human beings require to track down true digital information.

Knowing the perspective of different reputable sources about a particular piece of information

In addition, knowing the perspective of different reputable sources about digital information also acts as a compass to navigate the authenticity of digital information. Different sources provide information about a topic, news, or event. For instance, Reuters, the Associated Press, BBC News, and the Wall Street Journals are among the most effective sources for getting true information. If any information is fake or biased, looking and reading it from multiple reliable sources can give an insight into the true or false nature of the information. This way, any digital information can be authenticated by cross-checking it through multiple sources. 

Relying on information sources that provide facts and figures and sources of evidence

Additionally, the information provided with facts and figures and evidence from recognised resources makes it easier to identify the information. For instance, the facts and figures given by Aljazeera, a news channel, during the years of the pandemic were more reliable than the ones given by local news channels operating in the countries. Further, the digital platforms that provide the sources of evidence and information share credible information. Therefore, the sources that provide facts with evidence are reliable for getting true information.

Using fact-checking websites

Likewise, fact-checking websites are the key players used to verify information. Fact-checking websites such as Politifact.com, factcheck.org, and snopes.com are used to check information. According to a report of Freedom Network (FN) Pakistan 2022, disinformation in Pakistan ranges from issues of national and regional significance, fake security threat warnings, fabricated official documents and rumours about top military personnel, indicating that false information is posing a great threat to the country’s sovereignty. Therefore, several fact-checking units, fact-checking Pakistan, basic fact-checking, and fake news media, have become operational in Pakistan to curb the menace of hoax information. Fact-checking websites are thus a true saviour in the middle of chaos.

Critical Analysis

After critically evaluating it, it could be claimed that digital information has changed traditional modes of information with modern ones. The information is now only a click away from the masses. Despite the ease of assessing various digital information in no time, the struggle to get a hand on true information through digital platforms cannot be ignored. The technology-driven world is changing so rapidly that the current methods available for assessing the authenticity of the information fall back at certain points. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to open new arenas for getting true information.

Conclusion

In conclusion, digital information underpins present-day life in all disciplines, be it education, health, or the economy. But, at the same time, the availability of a great variety of information hinders true information, increasing distractions in the form of false information. Nonetheless, certain methods, such as inculcating digital literacy, using critical thinking skills, and relying on reputable information sources, can help human beings find the way out of the maze of misinformation. These sources can prove to be a true blessing in a time when the biggest challenge countries face is nothing but misinformation.

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