Hot take: Facebook is one of the worst things to happen to the average intelligence of people on the internet. How is that, you ask?
Well, the rapid spread of fake and overblown news has led to a proliferation of bad information. This can result in people getting hurt. Case in point: clickbait weather articles that purport to be meteorological fact, when they are instead just a shameless grab for clicks and ad revenue.
Why do we follow so many junk, viral posts? Why do we love headlines that predict apocalyptic conditions, even when trustworthy sources haven’t verified that information?
Well, it’s not totally our faults. There’s a lot of psychology that goes into this phenomenon. Here’s how you can be better informed.
Be critical of information and check your sources. Viral content and getting people on their cellphones to share news articles is a business. Shocking headlines that strike fear into people are a massive part of any junk website’s grift. They’re trying to use the flashy, attention-grabbing nature of a harsh weather forecast to get you to click on something.
Official weather services like the National Weather Service and NOAA are trustworthy. They will put out accurate weather prediction models without the hype and viral headlines that make junk weather sites tick. Since they’re government programs, they don’t have to rely on exaggeration to draw people in. They just inform the populace of their weather observations.
If you see some crazy prediction on Facebook or social media and you’re not sure what to make of it, double check the story. Check an official source’s website, or a trusted weather report.
Our site, for instance, has links to up-to-date, accurate weather information. Similarly, your local weather channel will also have accurate and up-to-date broadcasts about any weather emergencies.
Be especially critical of any news you see claiming to predict weather events more than a week away. It is very difficult to accurately predict weather conditions that far in advance. Any articles claiming a weather event is coming in two weeks is probably full of it.
Remember: you’ve got access to the entire combined knowledge of humanity at your fingertips. There’s no reason to fall for nonsense on social media when a quick search of a trusted site can turn up real answers. Critical thinking is your best friend when it comes to the internet.