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Social media creating an unhealthy political climate and contributing to misinformation

Posted at 6:38 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 11:25:59-05

As the political climate continues to heat up, so do people's tempers on social media.

Studies show more people are getting their news right on their phones and computers through social media apps.

Sydney Glenn spoke with a psychology professor who says instead of trusting credible sources, more people are just finding things online that tailor to their beliefs.

"Everybody has beliefs, and everybody tends to think their beliefs are correct," says Dr. McGillvray.

You see it on social media all the time -- people demanding everyone believe what they believe or they will unfriend or unfollow you.

Dr. Shannon McGillivary says is not a good idea.

"Because we hide people or unfollow people who are posting things that are counter to what we think, we often surround ourselves with and friend, or follow those with similar beliefs."

Dr. McGillvray warns this type of behavior creates very one-sided beliefs.

"It becomes very easy to not hear what you don't want to hear."

She says this type inaccurate or one-sided consumption of information can have negative impacts on people's mental health.

"If you are just constantly consuming stories like this is bad, everything is becoming terrible, of course that makes you feel worse."

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Dr. McGillvray says you can fight back against misinformation but studies suggest you should not do it online publicly.

Instead, she suggests reaching out to someone privately.

She advises to first acknowledge the incorrect information, but then quickly counter it with the correct information citing credible sources.

She says to then start a dialogue, one without hostility.

It's not foolproof but Dr. McGillvary says studies say this type of cautious approach does sometimes work.

The big thing Dr. McGillvray says to avoid is commenting on someone's post you disagree with -- it's a lost easier to be mean behind a screen.