Voters fell for something for nothing ruse
With a flawed primary and caucus system, media reports and stories filled with sensationalism and half-truths and emotionally charged ignorance, we elected our 45th president. Our primary and caucus system gave us two extremely poor candidates.
For close to a year, we listened to debates without hearing any details on how to address the serious issues we face, especially for those under the age of 50. What was used as a basis to vote for either candidate? Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump based their campaigns on the tried and true “something for nothing strategy.”
Trump’s “Make America Great Again” was an example of his sales genius. U.S. marketing is so far ahead of consumers that marketers could advertise bags of dog excrement and people would fight for a place in line to buy it.
We are going to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Mexico will pay for it. We will send all illegal immigrants home. We will bring back manufacturing. We will rebuild our military. We will rebuild our infrastructure. And we will cut taxes for all. Not a single mention of any sacrifice. Come on people. Are we really that ignorant?
It’s easy to check your facts
Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle in the Dec. 30 issue of the Bangor Daily News discussed Facebook’s new initiative to make it easier to report fake news, raising the simple question, who checks the fact-checkers?
Fake-fact inducing biases often are present whether we realize it, and they can be spread at alarming speeds through social media. Yet, these biases also are part of an answer to McArdle’s question as they are present in the people who will fact-check the fact-checkers: the readers.
As an active reader, we should not be assuming everything we see is true. It’s not difficult to fact-check information, especially with limitless references available online. Most students in school are taught which sites are reputable and which ones to be wary of. In addition to common sense, there are reliable websites that will do the work for you in verifying what you read ( Snopes.com, for example).
Many of us have our biases that will make us more or less likely to believe in information we see. This often is evident during political campaigns when many false claims are made against candidates. We may not believe the claims made against a candidate we favor, and we will look into this information further before we consider it to be true. Media may have the power to present any information it wants to, but it is the audience who chooses what to believe.
How to defend against identity theft
As a 21-year-old victim of identity theft and a student at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, hearing about the recent phishing attempt at the Orono campus scares me. I’ve had first-hand experience with the prevalence of scams, and I want to share some of the steps I have taken to keep my information and money safe from scammers.
Being aware of where you make purchases and reporting any suspicious activity to the bank, the Maine attorney general’s office or both is a good start. This fall, my debit card information was stolen. Because I review my statements each month, I noticed charges that were unfamiliar to me including several purchases at an out-of-state Dunkin’ Donuts. I cancelled my card and worked with my bank to readjust the charges. Had I not been checking my statements, I might not have been able to get my money back.
Most importantly, I placed a freeze on my credit report. Turning on the freeze is free in Maine and prevents identity thieves from accessing all the sensitive information in your credit report. When the freeze is turned on, scammers cannot obtain credit (loans, credit cards and so on) in your name. Any Maine resident can easily freeze and unfreeze their credit report for free at any time. Just make sure freeze is placed on your credit report with all three major credit bureaus.
I’ve become a lot more cautious of how I’m sharing personal info — online and offline — and I encourage anyone reading this to place a credit freeze right away.