MTSU Professor Larry Burriss talks about Fake News and Social Media

Nov 07, 2022 at 07:08 pm by WGNS News

Fake news, wrong information and the internet - - Where does social media come into the equation in “Preventing Deep Fakes?” With today’s media commentary, here’s MTSU Professor of Journalism Larry Burriss…

Verbatim - “When you go to the store, do you buy a box of chocolates for its nutritional value? Probably not.


Likewise, why in the world would you go to the marketplace of ideas and turn to Facebook, TikTok or Twitter for serious discussions about public policy? The answer, you shouldn’t.

Now let’s be clear: there is nothing inherently dishonest with any of the social media sites. They are merely conduits for content.

But just like some food companies overload their boxes and cans with sugar and unpronounceable ingredients, social media companies can be overloaded with fake news, unethically edited videos and distorted sound bytes.

So I guess my question is, why would anyone use a social media site for legitimate public policy debate and discussion?

And a follow-up question, why would you have a debate with anyone about public policy when you know they are relying on these sites for their talking points?

Admittedly, as the technology becomes more and more sophisticated, recognizing problem sites can be more and more challenging.

But here’s an easy solution: Programmers, educators and critics seem to be most concerned about the impact of Facebook, Tiktok and Twitter. So perhaps the opinion leaders need to start a campaign: If it’s Facebook it’s fake. If it’s TikTok it’s tainted. If it’s Twitter it’s twisted.

Notice what I haven’t done is make any kind of suggestion that we ban or prohibit any kind of discussion.

In fact, my campaign doesn’t involve controlling or regulating any of the major platforms. I’m just suggesting we find a way to show the public we can’t trust any of the sites.

Of course, none of this is going to happen, because all sides, left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat tell us their side is telling the truth and the other side is lying to us.

So, just like you shouldn’t fill your body with non-nutritional food, you shouldn’t fill your mind with false, deceptive and unfair information.- I’m Larry Burriss.”


About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth. 

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.

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