SPEARFISH – What if there were no newspapers? What if you had to rely on social media for the news?
As we all know, just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.
A resident of Spearfish has discovered how quickly falsehoods on the Internet can spread.
As Nathan Hoogshagen prepared for the April election to the Spearfish School Board, he posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page.
The photo showed him holding his election sign that read: “April 13 Hoogshagen for the school board”.
A few days later, a friend reached out to him regarding a social media post describing Hoogshagen and an apparent statement from him.
“Vote for me, please! I will make sure NO MASKS are required, with LESS LGTBQ (sic) nonsense in our schools, LESS SCIENCE like ‘climate change’ and ‘vaccines “And MORE emphasis on CHRISTIANITY and FREEDOM and a TRUE American learning system”.
âI was very surprised and to be honest a bit disappointed. A friend of mine saw it shared on Instagram. She captured it and sent it to me. She was shocked because she assumed it was a true poster, âHoogshagen told the Pioneer.
He said his friend wanted to get together with him to talk about his beliefs, because she couldn’t believe he would say some of these things. He responded by saying that he was glad she was shocked that he said things like that.
âBecause I didn’t make this poster and those aren’t necessarily the things I believe in,â Hoogshagen said. âThe more I thought about it, the more I was disappointed. Because I believe in Spearfish, we have a great group of people who are respectful and can agree to disagree with people if they have different opinions. We don’t need to get in the mud and drag people into the middle of an election cycle. “
The rise of social media has given people across the country, and the world for that matter, a phenomenal way to stay in touch, share photos and videos of their lives, and communicate in ways that SMS or the emails couldn’t quite match. However, it didn’t take long for social media to be used in a nefarious way.
âFake news,â as it was called, or in other words, fake news, has spread like wildfire through memes and disinformation campaigns. Perhaps never before has such false information been able to be disseminated so quickly to such a large audience. This became so problematic that the media had to increase their fact-checking services. In fact, the Associate Press even launched a “Fact Checking” section devoted to dispelling inaccurate and misleading information. Read more on this topic in Wednesday’s Black Hills Pioneer.
With social media, there is no accountability, and keyboard crossovers can quickly type a message and share it. This post can be shared by subscribers whose own subscribers can in turn share the original post.
And suddenly people like Hoogshagen are staring at the computer.
It was Hoogshagen’s first campaign. He had been appointed by the Spearfish School Board to fill Scott Odenbach’s vacant seat after being elected state representative.
He said the buzz had made him more upset than the words that had been spoken.
“It bothers me more to think that there are people in our community who think this way and would be so disrespectful that they would lie and make things up about someone elseâ¦ instead of debating issues, get to know the truth about what people think, something like that.
So why would anyone create a slanderous post about a local election?
âI thought about it a lot. I think this is a telltale sign of what is happening nationally with the way our elected officials treat each other, âhe said. âYou look at what’s going on in DC and you have AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y.) saying things have happened here, she’s lying. You have (Senator) Mitch McConnell saying, “Well, we’re not going to do that, so-and-so did that.” These are people on both sides, pointing fingers, lying about what people say and trying to assassinate people’s character instead of debating the issues at hand.
So what if you were to rely solely on social media for the news?
âUnfortunately, I think most people do, and that’s the problem,â he said.
Hoogshagen said he was a part of many social media groups, and in every group, “There are always people out there who are what I call ‘gas lighters’,” he said. declared. âThey’re always going to throw gas on a fire and share this message, and they’re never going to verify the information. And that’s how much of this information is disseminated. I think it’s so important for people, before I share this post on Facebook, Instagram, whatever, to take that five minutes and do some research and make sure what they’re sharing is true.
âFor example, in my case, if it had spread more widely than it had been, it made me look like a completely different person than I am,â he added. âFortunately, it gave me the opportunity to post things and say, actually, that’s who I am, and that’s how I react to things. “
And unfortunately, he said, too many people are sharing a social media post with incorrect information.
âPeople have a duty to verify the information they give,â Hoogshagen said. âI’ll give the Pioneer a ton of credit. You’re not like the New York Post, or the LA Times, or the Washington Times where you post retractions every day because you let out a story, you know it wasn’t true, and they publish a withdrawal, and you do so on page 11 at the bottom in fine print. … The Pioneer does a great job of reporting the facts of what is going on and letting people make their own informed decisions with the correct and accurate information at their fingertips.
As for his approach to ‘fake news’, “I’d always be interested in meeting the person who made the poster, having coffee with them and cleaning the air,” he said. “If they feel like they want to get together and talk about it again, I have no intention of revealing who that person is, but I don’t like to leave a conflict unresolved there.”
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