Almost all human knowledge is now uploaded on the Internet. Thanks to the digital revolution, we have now made it accessible for everyone to access any type of information from the internet, whether it is harmful or trivial. On a survey made six years ago, 94% of all the children 18 years old and below have access to the internet and to a computer. Almost everything is being outpaced by everyone. Most of the materials and the teaching articles you need can be found and downloaded from any respectable computer setup. Some computer giants have even found ways to make it easier to access any type of document from your mobile phones. We have not yet peaked when it comes to digital ingenuity. While digital literacy and ethics were scoffed at before, during the inception of the Internet, we need them now more than ever. Efforts in the digital arena are swaying Presidential elections — and can swing the course of where the country will go.
Digital literacy and ethics are two of the biggest problems of the older generations in this day and age. While before, the Baby Boomers and the Gen X-ers are the ones who were advocating not trusting strangers, they seem to be the ones who are the most susceptible to incorrect information on the internet. In a study done by Princeton and New York University, they found that Baby Boomers are highly likely to believe and share misleading news on Facebook and other social media sites. This trend made them one of the sparks of the tightest Presidential Election races in recent history. It appears that because most of the older generations lack the Internet code of ethics and basic digital literacy, they are the most adamant and stubborn group to change their views when struck by misleading information they want to hear.
How important are digital literacy and ethics for people in the digital age?
Fake News in History
False news and misleading information are not new in human history. However, it saw its peak at the dawn of print media. The Nazi propaganda was laid under the foundation of fake news. For years and years leading up to the Holocaust, most print media outlets in Germany echoed Hitler’s anti-Semitism repeatedly until it was ingrained in every then-nationalistic Germans’ minds. False information became so overwhelming that it blurred the line between what was fact, what was fiction, and what was merely an opinion.
Even false information regarding private individuals has become trending in the past few years. Many individuals are claiming libel and slander against certain people because of certain gossip they keep on spreading. Some have even lawyered up and hired personal injury lawyers to protect their honor and integrity. These expert lawyers are necessary to obtain the necessary compensation they deserve against uncouth and mischievous information regarding them, especially if the source is hard to trace.
Some universities have sworn to eliminate fake news by teaching false information classes as a course elective to their students. In an effort to move against fake news, certain colleges around the United States have invited their student populace to participate in the discussion and discourse on false narratives. More importantly, the classes try to uncover the underlying meaning and methods behind the fake news that is so rampant. Universities are trying to equip the younger generations with this knowledge in order to prevent them from falling into the trap of repeating the mistakes of the older generation.
Digital Ethics in Social Media
Social media sites are claiming to be making an effort alongside universities in their fight against false information. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have installed warning and prevention mechanisms to combat the spread of false narratives. Upon usage, these sites ask you to only rely on trustworthy news sources when it comes to relevant news. In the war against COVID-19, for example, Instagram will direct you to the CDC website to be certain about specific news regarding the pandemic. In a stunning landmark move, Twitter even decided to ban the U.S. President from tweeting due to his alleged calls for violence.
Digital literacy and ethics are integral tools needed for lifelong learning. Since most of the information can be accessed through the internet, it is inevitable that people will be faced with information that can easily sway their minds — even if the information is false. Responsible usage of the internet is key to maintain the peace and utility of internet use. Everyone is a citizen of the digital sphere. We must integrate these principles into our daily lives.