(KOLN Lincoln, NE January 9, 2021) The fight against misinformation and the danger it can cause has been in the forefront this week. Social media companies are taking drastic steps to try to get it under control on their platforms. A local behavioral health expert, Dr. David Miers from Bryan Health, said science can explain some of the reasons misinformation can spread easily, and be difficult to stop. Dr. Miers told our media partner 10/11 News, “There is so much information out there that it’s just information overload.” Social media has been in American lives for years now and it’s playing a major role in what people believe. Social networks are set up to feed you things the companies know you’ll react to. “They’re looking at everybody’s habits on social media and what they’re doing is feeding our social media needs with the things they know that we’re interested in,” Dr. Miers said.
The things you’re most likely to engage with and share, are things that you or others around you already believe whether they’re true or not. Dr. Miers says there’s a scientific reason it feels good to have your feelings reinforced. “You get dopamine in your brain the more likes that the dopamine is like a pleasure center in your brain and so it makes you feel good and so the more likes you get, the better you feel,” Dr. Miers said. One of the most effective ways to make sure people aren’t constantly being fed false information is to keep it off social media platforms in the first place.
Dr. Miers said, “We really need to monitor the social media messaging that is out there and to ensure we get those things off of social media and only put the things out there that are true.” He said people need to go rely on trustworthy sources of information rather than just seek out viewpoints they want to see. Dr. Miers recommends people speak to others about controversial topics in person or over Zoom rather than in the comments section.