Validity of Social Media

The validity of social media.

Shawna had an opportunity to participate in a webinar the other day that was simply fascinating in content and we’re sharing the basics here. The entire subject was the impact of social media. We’ve said it before, most people are getting their information these days from social media – online.

First, we had the town newspaper, that was followed by 3 television news channels. Then cable came along and added more news and programming to our lives. A few years later, the internet and home computers became available to us. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites soon became highly popular along with the ability to create your own website and then blogs. E-newsletters followed along quickly gathering your email addresses.

People cancelled their newspaper subscriptions and some even cancelled cable in favor of Netflix and other online viewing sources.

The way people gain information and are influenced has changed markedly in the past few years. “Liking” content or individuals or organizations ensures that you will receive similar content in your newsfeed. When an individual continues to receive content that repeatedly enforces specific messages, such as “unions are evil,”  repeated messaging just enforces your beliefs due to the specific messaging you are receiving due to the analytics of social media. As a user, you will continue to see only that content that leads you to believe that the messages you are receiving are true.

It’s a fantastic way of marketing and enforcing groups stay together and the political divide widens. Pretty much what we see today in politics. If it’s about evil unions controlling education, you’re probably looking at skewed information. There’s an extremely silly article on a Koch funded blog, calling itself news, attempting to scare Dougco families right now about the evil union CEA coming to take over their district. Even though they have AFT and the story is so full of false, it drips. There are actually sites telling people that teachers are forced to join unions, of course that’s not true but it doesn’t stop people from saying it because that’s what they read online and we know everything on the internet is true.

I will admit to (this is Shawna) receiving and believing inaccurate information about our school district and public education in general. Before I got involved, I received my email newsletters and went to the website of the Jeffco Republican Party for information. I saw the birther claims that Obama was not a citizen of the US, though I didn’t give them credence as I was certain there were individuals in authority that checked for Presidential qualifications for all candidates. What I did believe though was that our school district was wasting money – because I received the newsletters and saw the content on the website repeatedly. From one newsletter, my email address was sold or given to others and I received more similar content from other groups, though I had no idea who the individuals were who sent me the content AKA “messaging.”

However, because I had a child and a vested interest as a major stakeholder, I decided that I would use my talents to help the district. I still knew that our schools were moderately funded because I had a mother working in education as a special education teacher but I had no idea how bad it was until I truly jumped into the deep end, head first.

In my news feed, Great Education Colorado, the Colorado School Finance Project, and Colorado Fiscal Institute didn’t exist. Neither did my school district, Jeffco Public Schools.

If someone “likes” those pages with false and skewed rhetoric, they’re going to see recommended posts to follow Americans for Prosperity, ALEC funded sites, and skewed political information. That’s all you’ll see as you “like” your way through the social media pages and accounts, the exact same messaging. As a user, if you “like” that content, it also recommends it to your friends.

How do you change that?  The only way to actually change it is a true grassroots activity, sharing content so your friends see information you know is credible. Do your own research when you see biased messages and look for sources to content. We try to include links on all of our information for this purpose.

Jeffco is 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Democrat, and 1/3 Unaffiliated – the content we are all seeing is extremely different. It truly is up to us to do the work to Support Jeffco Kids.