The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen as Israeli troops’ bombardment of Gaza continues. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes appeals from the European Union for a humanitarian pause and rejects calls for a temporary ceasefire made by the United Nations and U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, the Palestinian death toll as of Nov. 3, totals 9,227. Over 1,400 people in Israel have been killed and 242 hostages were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza.
Amidst the media coverage of the conflict, videos and images have been manipulated to propagate misinformation and disinformation throughout social media. According to AP News, “While plenty of real imagery and accounts of the ensuing carnage have emerged, they have been intermingled with users pushing false claims and misrepresenting videos from other events.”
“We are heading into an era where it is becoming more and more difficult to be able to distinguish the real from the fake, which is a real problem for democracy,” said Dr. William Yousman, professor of Media and Performing Arts.
“Be very careful about what you see on social media. Always double check and verify it by looking at actual verifiable journalism. But keep in mind that verifiable journalism can also make mistakes,” said Yousman.
A Statista study on the generational frequency of social media as a source of news, reported in Aug. 2022 that 50% of Generation Z acquires their news daily by social media.
Senior Abby Lockwood and junior Kathryn Loughlin both mentioned social media as one of their sources for information on the conflict.
“Initially, I saw so much on TikTok because it was very reactionary. It was clips of the most gruesome and violent attention-grabbing events,” Loughlin said. “To understand the conflict more thoroughly and to see past the doctored and biased information, I began to read from the typical news outlets that I trust online and had conversations with others I deemed credible.
“I noticed in conversations with a lot of my peers that they were purely getting their information from social media, they were misinformed and spreading misinformation,” said Loughlin.
Lockwood noticed that a lot of people she knew were also getting the majority of their information from social media.
“A lot of my friends who are not as politically involved tend to get their news from TikTok or Twitter (X), which leads them to be a lot more susceptible to mis/disinformation, because that is usually where it appears,” said Lockwood. “It is becoming more and more difficult to get credible news these days, especially because of the rise of Artificial Intelligence.”
The concept of media literacy according to the National Association for Media Literacy Education refers to the ability to analyze and evaluate media, promoting critical thinking and literacy regarding all forms of media.
“In the same way we need basic literacy, we need to learn to read media with a critical eye,” said Yousman. “The goal is to make people more critical thinkers about the media they are consuming so that they don’t just take everything at face value. Instead, people are able to come to a deeper understanding of the motivations behind people creating media, what ideologies they are trying to promote, what their goals and how might this shape the media people consume.”
In the Hamas and Israel conflict, “It is important to remain media literate because it bolsters the understanding of the world around us. The information people our age mostly consume is often misleading and deceptive. It is on us to research further and aid to the politically and socially correct global conversations,” said Loughlin.
Lockwood, like Loughlin, acknowledged the importance of media literacy and how media is consumed in this case. “We must not rely on sources like social media or politically biased news sources when it comes to this conflict. If we do, the conflict will only escalate. It is important for credible news sources as well as the government to shut down misinformation,” said Lockwood.