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Agriculture This Week: Know the source and check the facts on ag

Somehow, we need to get people back to analytically thinking, to spend time investigating more broadly than ‘liking’ random posts on social media.
Lots of information on Internet but it's not all factual. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Sometimes when you are reading a news story you still find yourself practically laughing out loud.

That was the case when reading an article at and seeing a quote which stated “if you are on TikTok or Instagram, it’s quite possible that you may have come across something that is negative or misleading.”

The statement is weirdly interesting for a number of reasons, all with at least some relevance to agriculture.

To start with this is under-statement in the extreme. It doesn’t take long for anyone with a modicum of common sense to recognize social media is a quagmire of information, some offered by credible sources, much a blend of fact and fiction, and much of it pure fiction presented as fact to promote a particular point of view.

I recall from my days in school many, many years ago, a history/social studies teacher reminding that when doing reports it was important to have multiple sources to support a position because not every book written – the primary source of information at that time – was 100 per cent factual.

Jump ahead several decades and while the laptop and cellphone has put masses of information at our disposal by the punching of some keys it is also far, far more difficult to determine the kernels of truth from the chaff of rhetoric and misinformation.

For agriculture that is troubling.

It is too easy for false statements about things such as the safety of food, or the sustainability of farm practices to catch public attention, and once something starts being shared across social media contradicting the falsehoods it becomes near impossible.

What people choose to eat, as an example, might well be influenced by misinformation.

Even more concerning is governments may create legislation impacting farmers and how they operate to appease their voters, who have lobbied for change because they have bought into one falsehood, or another, which has suggested what farmers do is wrong.

The question then becomes what can the industry as a whole, and producers individually do to tip the narrative back toward good science and fact?

That’s the dicey question because simply entering the conversation with factual information will only sway the few who are actively seeking multiple sources of information before making an informed decision.

Many on social media are happily lemming-like following the crowd of the moment with a willingness to jump to any conclusion given without considering the source of information, or the creditability of information given.

Somehow, we need to get people back to analytically thinking, to spend time investigating more broadly than ‘liking’ random posts on social media, and in the end basing our views on the best information we can find.