Social Media

5 Things To Do To Avoid Passing On Fake News on Social Media

Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and other old and dead white guys have been attributed to saying the quote: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Even though I’m still trying to find out who really said it (even Google is confused), this statement is mad accurate. Especially in the age of social media when we all have easy access to amplification and fewer gatekeepers of the news.

Everyday, I see people posting links of stories that are either inaccurate, out of date or just plain fake to Facebook and Twitter. A lot of times, the posters are also expressing some dramatic emotion around the (literally) bad news.

Jeebs be the fence of discernment around our proverbial sense houses because we are outchea failing at media literacy. The interwebs has ruined the ability for people to know what’s real, what’s fake and when to question what they read. So I am here to give tips for people to do before spreading news they see online.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this seem believable on a most basic level?
  • Is the website reputable?
  • Is this news reported elsewhere?

If any of the answers is no, then do some due diligence to find out.

5 Things To Do Before Passing on News On Your Social Media Accounts

Click the post and read beyond the headline.

Many people see the title of a post and they gather their outrage or disdain or happiness from it. From JUST the headline. They repost with haste to cheer or jeer and they didn’t even read the content of it. They just figured they know what it entails. This is how many people got caught up with a post going around right now with the headline “ABC Has Announced That Next Season Will Be The Last For Scandal.” I saw it posted by at least 3 people who were upset about it. I clicked the article and saw that it was a joke to see how many people would fall for it. So those folks who posted it and were upset didn’t even click through to stop the chain of foolishment. FAIL.

READ.

nene Read Hunny gif

Look at the date.

This past week, I saw people all in their feelings about the news that Rue McClanahan died. “OMG NOT BLANCHE” was all in my newsfeeds along with the story as fans of “Golden Girls” and her other work mourned her. But here’s the thing: Rue died 4 years ago. Had they just looked at the date on the article, they’d see it was from 2010.

We’re the most skimming folks ever. We just hit “share” sometimes without even clicking through to read the article. Admit it. We deduce that we learn all we need from the featured image and the headline. All you gotta do is click through and pay attention to what’s in front of you.

I was on the phone with a friend as I was scrolling through my newsfeeds and I admit I gasped when I saw “Rue McClanahan dies at the age of 76.” Then I was like “wayment. I knew this. I wrote a post on this when it happened.” LAWD! People were about to have me re-mourning her. It’s contagious.

Google it.

If you read something that seems outrageous, before you pass it on to others, pause and Google it. Can you find a second source? If not, wait. Don’t try to play FIRST on news and post it just so people can comment “FAKE.” Be sure. No, Jaden Smith will not be playing Trayvon Martin in a biopic because that janky website said it. If you google it, and the news isn’t corroborated anywhere else, you might wanna wait til you find other receipts.

Google It gif

It’s easy. There’s even a site called “Let me Google that for you.” Because: fed up.

Look it up on Snopes.

There are so many urban legends that have been disproven but they still get life from people sharing posts that are completely untrue. Snopes is a website that does the research work for you and tells you if a rumor is true, partly true or false. It also lets you know if something has been proved to be neither of those (unknow). Nope, a tooth left in a glass of coke will not dissolve overnight and yes, it’s true that the woman that Jack Nicholson thought was his sister was actually his mother.

Although, sometimes Snopes gets it wrong too. They aren’t 100% accurate so it helps to do some more research on your own..

Know your satirical websites.

There are many websites that like to say they’re satirical. The Onion is the leading one and they do satire WELL. Humor is subjective, of course, but there’s some piss poor satire out there that jumps over the line to lying and trying to fool people. To me, satire is SMART lambasting of the world through sarcasm and ridicule, not just the ability to lie about news. SMART is the keyword.

Websites like CreamBMP, The Daily Currant, The News Nerd and others like them aren’t as much satire as they’re clickbait preying on people’s need for outrage. They’re basically what the Enquirer is, except digital and a little bit more smug about their wackness. Whoring for pageviews is their business model. I kind of hate them with the intensity of 1,000 African suns at high noon.

There is also a website called RealorSatire.com. Use that if you’re confused about whether a site is shitty satire or purporting to be real.

Lies Throne gif

Please stop linking to stories on these sites as if they’re factual. Every day, someone on my Facebook friends list posts a story from one of these places, believing that what they read is true. And each time that happens, an angel dropkicks a trashcan and facepalms on Heaven’s gate. Wikipedia has a list of satirical sites. It’s by no means comprehensive but next time you’re not quite sure, check there first.

By taking these extra steps, you won’t be spreading terrible fake news. Real news is bad enough and there’s more than enough things to be mad at about REAL life so we don’t need lies to piss us off.

Also, I think it’s important that we become more savvy about the news we share and vouch for. Misleading information can be dangerous at times, and since we have ALL become the gatekeepers, we should make it a point not to let trash enter the city gates so often.

Abraham Lincoln Internet lie

Let us never forget that just because it is on the internet does not mean it’s true!

Check out the pinnable graphic below. Pass it on!

5 Things To Do To Avoid Passing On Fake News on Social Media

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78 Comments

  1. Aponda Rose
    June 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    Hey! I want Scandal to be over! I can’t help that the thought of it being over made me so happy, I didn’t even open the link.

    • Andrea
      July 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm — Reply

      BOOOOO! BOOOOOO!!

    • MamaM
      December 15, 2014 at 10:49 am — Reply

      This is a GREAT answer!!!!

  2. DMarie
    June 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    I know soooo many people that believe AND POST stories from The Daily Currant, that it makes my head hurt. One person I knew said about one story, that if they took the time to write it up and put it out there, there must be some truth it, and she was choosing to believe it. O_o.

    • MamaM
      December 15, 2014 at 10:51 am — Reply

      You should remind your friend that JK Rowling took the time and wrote up Harry Potter and that’s 100% fiction.

      • Brandon
        March 24, 2015 at 11:01 am — Reply

        Wait, Harry Potter isn’t real?

    • LT Garcia
      February 1, 2016 at 1:35 am — Reply

      Even better are the people who have said to me ‘I don’t care if it’s real – it’s still cool/interesting/fun so I will share it’ O__o

      • Tasha
        February 1, 2016 at 5:17 am — Reply

        “It could really happen!”

        No, people can’t have holes in their fingers that look identical to lamprey mouths.

        Those two pride-saving cop-outs irk the sanity out of me.

  3. Dahvontay
    June 16, 2014 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    I just hit a couple of soprano runs over this article (I sing bass). That’s it!

  4. Kegan
    June 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm — Reply

    Thank you sooooo much for this article! I was about to give up on FB because of all the misinformation on there. And when you tell these people that their info is flawed, they still get a thousand commenters that believe. Smh@ thefoolishness.edu

    • July 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm — Reply

      First legit laugh of the day at smh@ thefoolishness.edu!

  5. Demond D. Edwards
    June 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm — Reply

    THANK YOU! I am saving this link to my board and will be posting it to folks that do this crap. I have corrected people and they responded that they felt it was still valid and would cause people to think, etc!

  6. Nikko Chicon
    June 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm — Reply

    NPR pulled an April Fool’s joke this year about people not reading. It was fantastic and epic and it sadly proved a point that people don’t read.

    http://www.npr.org/2014/04/01/297690717/why-doesnt-america-read-anymore

    • Jamie
      December 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm — Reply

      Yes! That was hilarious. People got SO MAD.

  7. StarAnise
    June 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    Chile! It’s about damb time somebody said something! Folks believe any and err thang just because it was on the interwebs but didn’t bother to verify with the googlenets. I love scrolling through Snopes just to see what foolishness people swear is the truth! Stahp!

    • Tekiebelu
      June 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm — Reply

      Snopes has always been my go-to debunkifier & sh!tbuster & I wish more people subscribed to the grain of salt theory of life. I’m a natural skeptic anyway but I learned early that you can believe only 50% of what you read & even less of what you hear! Surely we can’t all be so gullible…

      • mznicky
        March 23, 2015 at 6:37 am — Reply

        And yet, I’ve seen b.s. disproved by snopes, only to have some right winger come back with “snopes is a liberal site! They LIE!” No way around purposeful stoopid.

        • PJ
          February 3, 2016 at 8:11 pm — Reply

          Well, but Snopes is not completely accurate every time, and I have seen articles where they dish up facts in a way that can be misleading, sometimes the rest of the story is there but it’s buried or way at the bottom. Still I’m grateful for sites like theirs, but agree with the author, check multiple sites. Last I knew snopes was all volunteer and small staff, hard to be on top of everything.

  8. Erin
    June 16, 2014 at 6:40 pm — Reply

    THANK. YOU.

    I judge the hell outta people who repost from those sites you mentioned. THEY SAY SATIRE AT THE BOTTOM!!!

  9. ayana
    June 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm — Reply

    Like the article “reporting” that tyler perry bought an airline and was going to operate it like soul plane!!! That damn story was allllllll through my timeline! Ugh!! I facepalmed so much that day that I put FB on time out. And since then have side-eyed many of my Ph.d, Dr. And esq. Friends for posting without reading!!!

    • Tekiebelu
      June 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm — Reply

      I deactivated my FB account because I was overwhelmed by the stupid! My forehead would be red by the time I finished browsing through my timeline from the perpetual facepalm that was activated!

  10. Ronicaone
    June 17, 2014 at 6:19 am — Reply

    Forwarding this along. I booted up the laptop the other day & an in-law had posted the RIP that Tracy Morgan was dead. I had not seen any injury listed that would be fatal listed so I did the CNN, BBC, Al J, research plus TM’s twitter. By the time I went back another friend had posted a negative response and said no mention on CNN. I added my two sense and withdrew. She later apologized and said she’d been pranked.

    Since most folks use smart phones they are too lazy to check facts. Some folks are just dumb and want to be the first with the scoop. My standard response to so many questions and comments is google it, no not Wikipedia, Google, bing, or any other source. Thanks for putting these words together so politely so I do not have to speak harshly to the eejots.

    • Queen of Sarcasm
      August 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm — Reply

      Goes to show you how “Smart” the phone actually is -_-
      #igoogle

  11. SBJ
    June 17, 2014 at 7:26 am — Reply

    I often Google or research any article or blurb that seems outrageous. I didn’t even click on the link about Scandal because I knew it could not be true. Scandal popular has not run it’s course.
    Also, that why reading is fundamental, I don’t leave my research up to internet, I will still crack open a book or visit a more intellectual website.

  12. TammyS
    June 17, 2014 at 7:58 am — Reply

    There are several sites I go on daily, one of them is “Cracked”. One of the most common features which Cracked normally do is news stories which are totally BS. It seems that even reputable new sources are being taken in too by these ‘factual stories’;fact-checking is seemingly a thing of the past as people become more connected and dependent on the net for their source of information.

  13. Tiffany
    June 17, 2014 at 9:47 am — Reply

    I just recently saw one this morning that a friend posted. The news story was that Netflix cancelled Orange Is The New Black. If that wasn’t enough to roll your eyes, my friend responded, “Why? First The Walking Dead, now this?!?!” and I just had to comment saying two words.

    You’re stupid.

  14. Cheryl
    June 17, 2014 at 9:53 am — Reply

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I swear I posted this same as a status update on FB a month ago. Reading (and researching) is truly fundamental and becoming a lost art.

    • Londa
      June 17, 2014 at 9:59 am — Reply

      I should have read the comments before I posted. I could have then just said “amen” to your post and kept on moving. Didn’t mean to duplicate. But, obviously, great minds think alike.

      • June 17, 2014 at 10:04 am — Reply

        It’s all good!

  15. Londa
    June 17, 2014 at 9:57 am — Reply

    Amen! Thanks for this. I posted Abe Lincoln “quote”/pic on my FB account with a link to your page.

    Sometimes, I just want to share with people that reading is fundamental…and so is research and common sense!

  16. Vivian
    June 17, 2014 at 10:50 am — Reply

    Great article! Thank you for taken the time to make it so clear. I saw the info the other day on my friend’s FB page about “Scandal” and started to respond and say “Oh Well” but I hesitated. I had not recalled viewing that information on a reputable news site, so I never responded. Now I will go on and tell her it’s fake. Thanks again for keeping us aware.

  17. David
    June 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    The article’s author needs to google “Oxford comma.”

  18. Dee
    June 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm — Reply

    I love me some snopes and alwayssssss visit it before posting an article. Oh, humans.

  19. Monica
    June 18, 2014 at 8:22 am — Reply

    Fortunately, I don’t have that urge to repost or share everything I see, especially if it’s some gossipy-type B.S. that I often complain about.

  20. Karleanne
    June 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    I’m totally on board except for the hate directed at the Daily Currant, haha. Agreed, it’s often not headline-based humor like the Onion, but the website advertises ITSELF as “The Global Satirical Newspaper of Record.” I have trouble seeing that as predatory. The blame should be on people who don’t read articles, not on a satirical strategy that requires slightly more work than reading a headline.

  21. CMC
    June 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    Let the church say AMEN! Thank you so much Luvie! I am passing along to my research challenged friends. 🙂

  22. deprogrammed
    June 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    More than I hate the misinformation (LIES! OUTRIGHT LIES!), I just can’t with the people who insist on believing it. Some things are obviously stupid, but people need to co-sign (Beyonce was never pregnant! It was fake! She had a surrogate!).

    Since they don’t have one, I’m happy to loan ’em all a clue: instead of a vowel, buy a life.

  23. DeRae
    June 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm — Reply

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!!

    I unfriended someone just last week for posting a video with a headline that said “Tracy Morgan died a few minutes ago”. I had already seen the post earlier and immediately Googled it to see if there were any major news outlets reporting it. I simply commented on that friends post “This is not true”…This nutcase came back with “You need to read your bible before making the comment that something isn’t true” [Me Blankstare]! Then I commented that “Tracy Morgan is not dead!” And his response was “Well that is what’s on FB!” I immediately clicked unfriend! Now what me reading my bible got to do with my comment, I don’t know. Not to mention, this person have no clue as to my religious beliefs! HA!

    Again, I say Thank You for this here post!!!

    • TBaby
      June 19, 2014 at 9:39 am — Reply

      I like unfriending idiots too. Too much work trying to make them see the light. Can we unleash Papa Pope on some people??

    • Tasha
      February 1, 2016 at 5:21 am — Reply

      I’ve unfriended a couple of people in that same fashion.

      I personally feel that opening Facebook to the general public was the dumbest idea, because of the onslaught of stupid people. Ironically, though I totally understand the genius behind it on a marketing level.

  24. Phyllis Rawley
    June 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    I don’t find Snopes.com to be accurate. When Fukushima hit, they chose the most ridiculous stories to cover and avoided the obvious truth.

  25. Amy Montano
    June 20, 2014 at 8:48 am — Reply

    Also, check http://www.politifact.com/ when posting political “facts” in the news.

  26. franki
    July 13, 2014 at 1:59 am — Reply

    In the words of seasoned journalist, Sam Donaldson, CHECK YOUR SOURCES, CHECK YOUR SOURCES, CHECK YOUR SOURCES!

  27. Brittany
    July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am — Reply

    #6: anything from empire news

  28. July 24, 2014 at 11:09 am — Reply

    “Every day, someone on my Facebook friends list posts a story from one of these places, believing that what they read is true. And each time that happens, an angel dropkicks a trashcan and facepalms on Heaven’s gate.” Looooooooooooooool. Oh man. Laugh of the morning.

  29. […] P.S. The article reporting that someone died is from a satirical site. Some of those are the worst and you should know how not to pass on fake news like that on social media. […]

  30. […] P.S. The article reporting that someone died is from a satirical site. Some of those are the worst and you should know how not to pass on fake news like that on social media. […]

  31. […] P.S. The article reporting that someone died is from a satirical site. Some of those are the worst and you should know how not to pass on fake news like that on social media. […]

  32. August 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm — Reply

    […] the Article. Luvvie Ajai suggests the most obvious solution to the fake news problem. Most people click mindlessly on links that they see on social media without even bothering to read […]

  33. kweku
    August 25, 2014 at 6:37 am — Reply

    my fave one that people get stuck on is abriluno.com.

    hello?!?!?! abril uno. april 1st. are y’all really *that* dumb to fall for it?

    oh, wait….

  34. Nikki
    August 25, 2014 at 11:32 am — Reply

    Just read an article posted by someone this week that George Zimmerman was arrested in Ferguson for approaching two black teens with a gun. You should have seen the indignation in the comments! So, I Google it and sure enough, nothing even remotely close! It’s getting so bad, that when Robin Williams died, I thought it was fake, like the “Jackie Chan dies on set while filming a stunt” story. As stated before, “just Google it!”

  35. I am appalled at our leaders, who sit by and allow the police to beat, maim, d kill our young black me. America has a thriving Prison system. A certain GA Governor promise that people who get out of prison, would be hired, and that he would see that any business that hires them get an incentive to do so. I have not seen it yet. So the offenders reoffend. Its a shame because all some of the ex offenders need is an oppertunity to work, they are not getting it. The Parole and Probation system instead of violating the offenders for petty theft crimes should offer more halfway house type work reentry programs. Wake up the petty theft inmate may become your worst nightmare in future years if you dont revamp your programs. Florida has comprehensive very good programs for there ex offenders. GA you may need to take a leaf out of their books. It will save your state more money in the interim. Its easy to punish but in the long run Rehabilitation may save your grandmothers life in a couple of years. Submitted by a blac kmom, Ex Police Officer, an Ex Councillor Florida Bureau of Corrections, Criminal Justice Major and mother of an offender. For more suggestions from a lay person who has no office but can give you insight to everyday life call 347_932_4965. I maybe able to show you some errors of judgements in your Criminal Justice System.

  36. September 22, 2014 at 12:33 am — Reply

    My personal test is to read other things on the same page in order to see if they make sense. For instance this came up on my feed from someone the other day:

    “Facebook To Begin Charging Users $2.99/mo Starting November 1st” – See more at: http://nationalreport.net/facebook-begins-charging-users-2-99mo/#sthash.IYF5m76t.gbpl

    I was skeptical so I read other stories that were linked on that page. I found the following:

    -Vatican Takes Credit For Ice Bucket Challenge; Goal Was To Baptize All Non-Believers
    -Dennis Rodman Leaves US To Talk With Leaders Of ISIS

    I rest my case.

  37. Cassandra
    October 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm — Reply

    Had to repost this after someone posted a news story from Craigslist… Yes Craigslist is now a news source. I cry for our humanity!!

  38. […] good news is you have the power to put a stop to it.  Empower yourself to propagate accurate information, and make the web a better […]

  39. November 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    Fantastic article. Thank you for writing this! Recently, I’ve noticed that by clicking the drop down arrow at the top right of one of these posts you can hide all from that site. I have cleaned up my newsfeed by doing this, so I don’t even see the crazy anymore.

  40. Malik M.L. Williams
    November 15, 2014 at 12:48 pm — Reply

    Speaking in tongues over here! Hallelujah! Thank you so much for this one. (I’ll pass it on just as soon as i verify that you are who you appear to be.)

    As for resources, there’s also http://realorsatire.com, where you can paste the link to the story you just read and find out if the site is listed in their satire site database.

  41. rhonda
    November 16, 2014 at 7:29 am — Reply

    So just to scandalize it a bit…your article reminded me of an episode on scandal late season 2 or early season 3 when bible thumping vp Sally tells Cyrus that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” was in the bible….I fell out! Please lawdcheezis help em’ remember that reading is fundamental but reading with understanding can be lifesaving!
    Love your articles and recaps about scandal . I’m almost as addicted to your recaps as I am to the show itself!!

  42. Lynnette Souders
    December 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm — Reply

    I keep telling my dad, a BLOG is not a factual news site. Its an opinion . He doesn’t get it, never will 🙁

  43. January 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm — Reply

    […] Where’s the balance? When do we post and when do we research? Blogger and social media strategist, Luvvie Ajayi, has a funny, clever but oh-so-useful response. Be educated and entertained: http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2014/06/5-things-fake-news-social-media.html. […]

  44. Jessica
    January 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    Thank you! As a librarian, I am always having teachable digital citizenship moments often explaining to my teen patrons make sure they vet their source information. I now have another article to illustrate “Read this before you go RUN TELL THAT!”

  45. Ashley
    February 9, 2015 at 2:29 pm — Reply

    I love this post so much. I have it bookmarked and when I see someone sharing fake stuff, I comment a sad face and a link to this article on the post. Even if they don’t read this, the title will let them know!

  46. March 23, 2015 at 7:23 pm — Reply

    Thank you so much for your intelligent and well-written article. I’m pleased for you that it is getting so many reposts. My wife and I are in the media business and are amazed at how much unsubstantiated you-know-what gets posted. We try to gently alter the skimming impulse of our readership, but mental laziness is a recalcitrant beast. Together we will help guide humanity into a more reasonable future!

  47. March 25, 2015 at 3:16 am — Reply

    While this is true that we don’t research enough, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Like the time it was reported that Mos Def was being kept from entering the country. If you hit Google, there were 2 pages of articles confirming this was true, including reputable (at least offline) news sources. It wasn’t true, and a fellow rapper of his phoned it in to say it wasn’t.

    The problem is, EVERYONE ran with the story without fact checking, including bloggers and online journalists, and it’s not the only time. Then several people on my friend’s list (I guess wannabe journalists in another life) got on their high horses about people passing the story that had been confirmed all over the ‘net. And that wasn’t the only time either.

    The truth is, online isn’t completely reliable. Between photo shop, the bloggers and writers dying not to be scooped in a medium that travels at the speed of light, accuracy in news is hard to find online.

  48. July 3, 2015 at 10:54 pm — Reply

    […] 5 things to do to avoid passing on fake news on social media :: Awesomely Luvvie […]

  49. Glenn Glazer
    July 7, 2015 at 9:32 am — Reply

    Another excellent satirist that often gets reposted as real is Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker.

  50. Steven
    July 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    Good post. Now if we can just get all internet writers to date their stories. I’ve spent countless minutes pouring over some articles for a clue as to when they’re written.

  51. Nancy
    July 9, 2015 at 11:35 am — Reply

    While I applaud your attempt to get people to do their own research I find that using snoops is not the best resource for truth.They don’t just get some things wrong they are biased and that in and of itself makes them unreliable.

  52. […] 5 things to do before passing on fake news on social media. parents read this. […]

  53. steve
    July 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm — Reply

    I also check the ‘About Us’ section. If it’s a satire website, they will say so. If it’s an opinion website (like Natural News), it will say so.

  54. October 1, 2015 at 6:03 am — Reply

    I agree with most of them, but I don’t have a problem with reposting about a death. for example someone posted that Paul Newman died, I honestly didn’t know he had made his transition, I was saddened. I didn’t repost, I googled him and saw he died a few years ago. he death was new to me!

  55. […] are also plenty of articles with catchy headlines just to attract clicks. PLEASE read articles and vet the sources before posting […]

  56. […] are also plenty of articles with catchy headlines just to attract clicks. PLEASE read articles and vet the sources before posting […]

  57. Betsy
    February 1, 2016 at 6:33 am — Reply

    This is great. I have been looking for something this clear and concise to use with my high school students! They are always quoting the crap. Thank you for putting this together!! You really are AWESOME!

  58. […] 5 Things to do to Avoid Passing on Fake News on Social Media – This piece gets a big Amen from me, because fake news stories drive me nuts and I have been known to be the person posting the link to the Snopes story debunking the fake story. […]

  59. […] are also plenty of articles with catchy headlines just to attract clicks. PLEASE read articles and vet the sources before posting […]

  60. […] the article Five Things To Do To Avoid Posting Fake News on Social Media, author Luvvie Ajayi offers this timely advice, which includes some important “media literacy” […]

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