Deciphering fact from fiction on social media - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Deciphering fact from fiction on social media

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With Twitter and Facebook now at your fingertips, it's easy to see why many go to these sites for quick information. Social media had a big role following the Boston Marathon Explosion and on a local level with the school threats. But with so many posting comments and pictures, it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction.

"I'm on it every five minutes." Heather Kaczmarek has Facebook on her phone and says she uses it daily to stay connected with family and friends, but it's not her main news source.

"Watch the news or look it up on the Internet, not really Facebook because people could say stuff on there and totally misguide you in the wrong direction," she says.

Alec Hosterman, Communication Professor at IUSB agrees. He says the information on social media sites isn't always accurate. "The difficulty is these are open mediums which means you can go ahead and post whatever you want."

He says look at the social media response to the Boston Marathon Explosion, sites like Facebook and Twitter blew up with posts and pictures. "Within two hours, people were making inaccurate claims just to make inaccurate claims."

And it can be hard to follow the facts if you're a regular user. "There's so many sources that you can access and you don't really know if they're credible sources or not," says Megan Vandervort.

But Hosterman says it's not all bad. Again with the Marathon- police are using social media to compile videos and pictures that can help in the investigation. "We're using social media as a tool, not just to capture fun events with the family, but we can use it as an archival tool or as a research tool."

He says while there's good and bad to social media, it's up to the user to take advantage of the benefits. "Don't take things at face value all the time. I think there's a responsibility we should have to check things out."

He says do your research and look at multiple sources, and social media users say that's not a bad idea. "You're constantly finding out new things," says Vandervort.

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