Making sense of the news

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Making sense of the news

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On eBay, bids for a first-generation iPhone released in 2007 are currently at $24,999. The black 8GB model is not a used phone but a rare object that has not been taken out of the original packaging. The specifications cannot be compared to the latest smartphones. It does not even have a GPS function. But the original iPhone is symbolic because it opened the era of the smartphone.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. On Jan. 9, 2007, the iPhone was unveiled at the Macworld 2007 convention in San Francisco. Donned in his signature black turtleneck and jeans, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone, “combining three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications.”

Sales began in June 2007 to raving popularity, and it was introduced in Korea in November 2009. Since then, smartphones have changed our daily lives.

Social media such as Facebook rapidly expanded as smartphones were widely used and communications technology developed. They have increased influence in creating public opinion as a news platform. Consumption of news through social network is increasing and not limited to the young generation.

According to the Korea Information Society Development Institute’s 2016 report on social media usage trend and behavior, 75.6 percent of those in their 20s used social media. But middle-aged Koreans also use social media, 50.2 percent of the people in their 40s and 30.4 percent of those in the 50s. While the absolute number is not as dominant as among young people, the rate of increase is fast.

Concerns grow as social media’s influence increases. Fake information is being produced and distributed through social media. In the U.S. presidential election, fake news like the pope endorsing Donald Trump became controversial, and problems with fake news are still rampant. Minjoo Party leader Choo Mi-ae recently presented a fake news article delivered on social media.

The date has not been determined, but the presidential election will be held in 2017. While fake news is not a major issue in Korea yet, it could become a serious social problem as the presidential election approaches. The National Assembly Research Service recently published a report on the controversy and meaning of fake news during the U.S. presidential election.

The report pointed out that news shared on messenger services like Kakao Talk and social media sites such as Facebook are hard to filter, and fake news could become a problem anytime. “Responses on distribution and expansion of fake news and fake information and their influences need to be studied while guaranteeing freedom of speech,” it said.

Stony Brook University in New York is offering a free six-week online course starting Jan. 9 to distinguish fact from fiction. The course is titled “Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lesson for Digital Citizens.” It is something Koreans might want to consider taking.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 2, Page 34


*The author is a deputy national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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