It's not always easy to determine whether what you're reading on your preferred social media platform is true news or – dare we say it – fake news. 

Stephanie Brons, a junior at Guam High School, receives her daily dose of current events from Apple News headlines. She said the site's legitimacy can be measured by the amount of verified information and quotes from people who are sourcing news or events. Brons said readers should be aware of which websites are credible.

“There is no guaranteed way to tell if the information that you are getting on social media is 100% accurate," she said. 

The 17-year-old Dededo resident is a proponent of the use of social media to share news. If the latest news is spread online, it can be viewed by millions within a matter of seconds but adds: "Nowadays, it is hard to find a solid source of news without a little embellishment added on to them as an attention grabber.”

One example she points to are memes, which she thinks can be a fun way for netizens to share news. She cautions: “Despite the fun of memes, I think they could ruin the reputation of someone, especially when humor is found in false claims.”  

Reagan Budasi, a sophomore at the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, tries to ensure that what she's reading on social media is accurate by checking the comments on the post and by conducting her own personal research online. She receives her news through Instagram. Most of the time, the information is accurate, but sometimes she finds it too outlandish to be true.

“I think it’s important to know about the author’s education and experience,” Budasi said. “If someone really feels that something in the article isn’t right, they should have the opportunity to contact the author about it in order to prevent false or biased information.”

The 15-year-old said she had fallen for clickbait titles. She fixed that problem by trying to avoid articles written by that organization or author. The Mangilao resident stated that sharing memes with others is great, just as long as the meme is not offensive or demeaning.

“Memes have a way of uniting people and allowing them to bond over a shared sense of humor or interest,” Budasi said. “They can make someone’s day a little less stressful and can even produce positive outcomes, such as the Team Trees fundraiser.”

The Team Tress fundraiser was part of an effort to plant more trees around the world. Started by Youtubers in May, the #TeamTrees movement set out to plant 20 million new trees by Jan. 1, 2020 and with the help of people on Guam and throughout the world that deadline was beaten. 

Budasi said that she has read many purported news articles with unbelievable claims. It's the overstatement that sparks Budasi’s interest in the subject and encourages her to do more research.

“Buzzfeed puts out trendy and nonsensical articles that you can read when you’re bored, or you have nothing better to do. On the other hand, CNN and The Guam Daily Post put out more informative articles that you can read when you need to know what’s going on in the world," she said. 

Nathan Naputi, a senior at Father Duenas Memorial School, encourages readers to check the article’s publisher, writer and background of their news source.  

The 18-year-old updates himself with global news through either Reuters or Reddit. For the most part, the former is right because they include the whole story, while other outlets tend to leave out bits and pieces to cater their news to their audience, according to Naputi.

“A newspaper should be impartial to politics and aim to report concrete facts rather than speculation. When journalists report a story, they should paint the whole picture and not cherry-picked content," Naputi stated. “In my opinion, the problem will fix itself. Over time, the general audience will begin to see the news outlet as unreliable, as the content of their publications may not exactly match with their header.” 

“From my experience, I learned to never believe what you read on the Internet," he added. "There are several groups or individuals who like to spread misinformation, and it’s an important skill to distinguish what’s believable or not.”

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