Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: Instagram isn’t the news source you think it is

Adam Marotta

Social media provides a fathomless sea of information available at humanity’s fingertips, and largely, it is an unequivocal resource for connecting with people, education and culture. But, as anyone who has used Instagram, TikTok or X knows, it also hosts the darker sides of this worldwide access: disinformation and misinformation, alongside harmful and violent ideologies.

The constant flow of discourse on social media faces innumerable difficulties with moderation and fact-checking to create a productive, trustworthy and appealing environment for users. Bots can only do so much, so it is imperative that regular users of social media understand how quickly inaccurate information can spread and how to identify it.

It is especially critical in an election rampant with conspiracy theories and intense partisanship on both sides. 

As the election approaches, the constant news cycle will work overtime reporting on the presidential candidates, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Every word they say will be scrutinized and undoubtedly spread like wildfire through social media. 

Understanding where the information you’re consuming comes from is the key to discerning what is fact and what is fiction for the 2024 election.

On Instagram especially, there are many accounts dedicated to repackaging news and political issues into condensed, visually appealing infographics. You’re probably familiar with their usernames: @impact and @so.informed, among others. With millions of followers, they’re almost impossible to avoid, from your friend’s story to a recommended post on the Explore page.

TikTok hosts several creators who discuss politics and current events, whose videos can amass millions of views in hours at a time. If picked up by the app’s algorithm, videos can generate discussions about hot-button political issues that span thousands of users.

Making current events consumable for a wider, younger audience is necessary to encourage progress and participation in a country where people 18-25 years old make up nearly a quarter of the voting-age population, with more than 8 million more being eligible to vote in the presidential election since 2022. But easy-to-swallow infographics and TikToks often lack the nuances and greater context of political events, so they shouldn’t be the only place to turn to for news.

No media is without bias. However, many media outlets are dedicated to reporting objectively on politics, and fact-checking resources, like PolitiFact, are available for anyone to use. 

Social media also creates ideological vacuums, where the more you view content with a certain political leaning, the more the algorithm shows it to you. This phenomenon can convince people their perspective is the objective truth when the reality is often that the issue is more complex and can’t be wholly addressed with only one sides’ ideas.

It’s easy to succumb to confirmation bias and be wary of unfamiliar perspectives. But to accept all information on social media at face value is a disservice to yourself when it comes to being informed and prepared to make decisions that will impact the nation’s future.

No matter your political affiliation, you can’t get all the information you need in 280 characters or less.

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About the Contributor
Leo Woods
Leo Woods, Photo Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

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