Social Media Literacy

During assembly on Friday, November 12, Julie Smith (School of Communications, Webster University) and Kathy Kiely (Missouri School of Journalism) talked to students about how to be wiser consumers of media and better "publishers" on social media.

Kiely said that anyone who uses social media is a publisher. This is positive because it provides a diversity of voices, but it is important that those who post understand the power they have. She added that the biggest threat to free speech is toxic speech (which has already led to censorship is some countries). The burden is on us to not issue toxic speech and to think critically about sources, their underlying motivation and whether they're trying to trigger an emotional response.

Smith shared a list of social media "Do's":

  • Realize someone will always assume the worst (i.e., may jump to conclusions about posts without clear context)
  • Recognize FOMO (fear of missing out) and don't despair or compare (step away and compose your thoughts/reactions)
  • Connect with experts
  • Promote your skills through professional accounts (you want the first search for your name to pull up a site you authored)
  • Understand how apps are designed (to keep you hooked while they collect your data)
  • Understand who's making the money (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google and Amazon)
  • Understand who runs the platforms (primarily rich, white men)
  • Recognize scams, fakes and catfishing
  • Know how to block, mute and ghost
  • Use Google reverse image searches
  • Learn to self-track (get Google alerts for your name)
  • Create strong passwords with 14 characters (and use a password manager)
  • Check Google and WebMii to check on yourself
  • Pause before you post
  • Have some coping skills for when you are/feel attacked
  • Be aware of deep fakes
  • Recognize your power
  • Use your power for good!

Smith and Kiely encouraged students to be good Internet citizens ~ to be active, responsible and careful. They suggested that when in doubt about a posting, don't.