With all this "fake news" talk that we hear so much about, I have to say there are some things that have been bugging me.

As a journalist, accuracy means a lot. We are responsible for making sure we check and double check our facts when writing a story. Now yes, sometimes mistakes do get made. We are human. I can guarantee that if we do make a mistake, however, we run a retraction correcting the misinformation.

Truthful and accurate reporting is practically beat into us when we study journalism. Yet when I hear "fake news," it always seems to be aimed at the media.

Now let me start off by saying to me there is a difference in journalism and mainstream television media. The days of Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, and Peter Jennings are long gone. The time where a news anchor stares blankly at the camera and reads the news without a personal opinion or dramatic effect is gone. No more, "and this was the nightly news."

Today news stations are nothing more than reality television. Everyone has an opinion and they only tell the side they want to tell. Everyone has an agenda and that’s what they are trying to sell.

I don’t see print journalism in the same category as news stations. To me, print journalism is an a category by itself. As I have said, print journalism, I personally feel, is separate. We know that opinions belong in only one part of the paper, the opinion page. We tell a story and list facts and accurate information and we leave out what we personally think. That is the way it is supposed to be.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear about "fake news," and media lies. Well just cause you don’t like it, doesn’t make it a lie. Sorry!

Yet with everyone upset over what they label as "fake," what are you all doing yourselves to stop it? Because the spread of false information in social media is so rampant that it scares me. What scares me worse is the fact that there are people who will believe anything they see on social media.

I have been told multiple times, "I get my news from social media," and as my jaw drops my thoughts are simply, "I am sorry." Do you have any idea how much "fake news" is on social media? Yet nobody will fact check, and then vehemently deny it when it is fact checked and proved wrong. Most just share and share away.

The spread of false information is having detrimental effects on our society, in my opinion.

All it takes is a little bit of time to simply search and see if something is fake before sharing. Let’s not dumb down our society with false information. Just take some time before hitting that share button.

Here are a few tips… If it seems too crazy to be true, then it probably is. Check the source of information. Half of the time you can tell it is fake simply by looking to see where it originated. If it is not a reputable site, then more than likely it is fake.

Another thing you can do is simply do a reverse image search. You can tell where photos were used and where it originated most of the time. A simple thing that I can’t believe I should even have to say is… memes are not news. They are not facts; they are, in fact, jokes.

It may not seem to be a big deal for some, but fake news on social media is a crisis. Every week the same story is circulating, the only thing that changes is the business it is aimed at destroying. I know you have seen it… Starbucks refuses service to veterans, then it was Wendy’s. It made its way around through half the food chains.

How many times have you seen a claim of a celebrity who had died, only to find out after you shared that it wasn’t true? My goodness, Betty White has died 50 times already, amongst other celebrities.

A lot of fake news on social media is aimed at creating a division. Ask yourself what the purpose of the article, meme, or photo is. Usually when it’s tearing down a business, or creating a rift in people… it is a good sign that it is biased.

This week alone I saw a group of people holding a banner, and someone had photoshopped the image to make the banner read "We’re coming for you bikers." It was supposed to be Antifa saying they were coming for motorcycle clubs, etc. Of course it did whay it was created to do. People posting and getting all riled up.

For me, instantly I could tell the banner was dingy except where the words were. That area was very clean and bright. Also the banner was being held crooked, yet the letters were perfectly straight. Pay attention to details, and do a reverse image search if in doubt.

The more we check things out before sharing, the less false information will be spread. False information will spread faster on the internet than true news, making it very dangerous.

People need to be better informed on how to spot it or how to fact check it. Heck, just type it in and hit google and you will be amazed at what comes up.

We all need to do our part in stopping the spread of misinformation. You can’t just point to "media" as the culprits, all while sharing every made up thing coming down the pipeline.

Facebook is the largest social media service on the planet, and yet it is filled with fake news. It reaches more people than you can possibly imagine, making it very dangerous for the widespread panic over false information.

We should all be doing our part and looking at the information that we share. Be responsible users of social media. Although Facebook itself is starting to do fact checks on information being spread, and even labels some as false, much still circulates.

I mean, it is a crazy world we live in since "Paw Patrol" is being cancelled because they have a police dog on it. (Another fake news rumor that had people all upset.)

Let's not forget that Facebook is going public with your post and pictures, unless you share that disclaimer. How many years has that false claim been going around?

Let us not forget donations to Black Lives Matter groups are going to the Democrat party. False. Crisis actors are really staging these horrific acts, like the death of George Floyd. False. How about remembering the Lincoln Memorial was not actually not defaced by protestors, the CDC has not reduced the COVID-19 death toll, and Nancy Pelosi impeachment pen was not 18 karat gold. Not to mention immigrants in this country illegally are not given voting rights.

Facebook rumors and fake news have been aimed at Democrats and Republicans. Celebrities, law enforcement agencies, and many others have also fallen victim to the misinformation and rumors.

It is far reaching and too often people will share before checking it out. So take the time to fact check your information. Don’t help the rumors to spread.

There is too much hate already, and it takes all of us to be vigilant and not add to the problem. Because if you ask me, 2020 has enough of it’s own real problems; we don’t need to be adding fake problems to it.

Just saying….

Barbara High is an award-winning staff writer for the News Tribune and can be reached at bhigh@newstribune.info.