Listen to this page! Narrated by Nicole A.
Written by Deanna D.
Narration by Priscila
Updated April 7, 2022
Episode background: A homegrown big brand pops up and its founder is interviewed in her home, proud of the successful protein weight loss shake Narrow Body. It’s revealed by the investigating reporter that some followers of the brand, may have had undesirable results.
Fake News – While the term “fake news” is experiencing a resurgence of use in popular culture since Donald Trump’s presidential win in 2016, it is certainly not an old idea. In the late 1890s, it was called “faking,” an important term of gutter journalism. Fakers use “stand-for,” a technique involving a prominent, intelligent, credible person in the community (doctors, dentists, businesspersons, etc.) who, for a fee, corroborates the story of any reporter.
Fake news is defined as misleading reports presented as news in a showy, bombastic way with the intent of shutting down critical reporting. An important piece of this definition is the purposeful presentation of what is often dishonest or misleading information.
The hope is that a competent reader can distinguish between factual reports and opinion pieces. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, so questioning and critical thinking are needed. Focus on the source, and ask these essential questions: is it credible or reliable? Are there motives and interests? What is the source’s track record? All are vital points to consider.
In recent times, the public’s attention has zeroed in on the way social media presents information, resulting in the realization that it is difficult for many individuals to tell facts from fiction.
Self-Objectification – Children and any person can learn self-objectification. People may view their own bodies as objects, focusing on how the body appears rather than how it feels. Self-objectification may compromise mental health and has been linked to symptoms of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Furthermore, self-objectification results in low self-esteem, increased body dissatisfaction and increased body shame.
It is a double-edged sword if Individuals think more about how the body looks to others rather than how the body feels internally. For individuals who base their self-worth on appearance, self-objectification can be either validating or threatening. In some cases, self-objectification has the potential to boost self-esteem (ie. if a woman feels attractive). Self-objectification provides an opportunity for women to feel beautiful and receive validation for their appearance. Thus, some women may seek the high of feeling great when they look stereotypically attractive, and the positive attention that comes with it. However, self-objectification tends to be a negative experience for most women and undermines their well-being.
Self-objectification can pull an individual out of the present moment. A person can feel less alive and vital. The energy a person puts into their appearance detracts from other pursuits that would be more likely to lead to sustainable well-being, such as contributing to society and finding meaning by making a difference for others.
Harmful Products – Some everyday products can contain harmful substances unnoticed by consumers. In fact, some additives improve the overall product performance or help a business skirt around regulations and make more money. For example, protein powder is a common product but can be illegally “spiked.” According to the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), protein spiking is when a company intentionally and deceitfully inflated the protein content of their shakes by adding the phrase: “free form amino acids and other nitrogen-rich/containing nutrients that increases the calculated protein content of a food.” Spiking allows the company to achieve higher profit margins and sales while maintaining the required protein content. Thus, consumers need to be careful. Dietitians recommend the use of protein powder (which can contain sugar, thickeners, and even toxic chemicals) should only be done with supervision. Also, products that promise to-good-to-be true results are questionable. Consumers need to put these products under the microscope and research them. Many consumers believe safe, non-harmful products have the following features:
-They have an eco-labelling or advertising
-Are natural personal care products
-Products featuring no hazard pictograms
Social Media Influencers – Influencers are individuals on social media platforms who have many followers. Due to their popularity, many brands approach these influencers and use them to endorse or review the company’s products. Sometimes these brand deals taint the opinions of the influencer and money may play a bigger role than the audience may think.
Research shows that the work of an influencer is fairly positive and that they do have an impact on their followers because they believe that the influencer is a credible source and thus are willing to try out the products they reviewed and endorsed. Plus, the followers understand the product more after a review than an advertisement.
Successful influencers need to operate within certain rules. Their content needs to be authentic, relevant and engaging. To maintain trust (and to be lawful in some jurisdictions), influencers must disclose influencer-brand relationships.
Scrutinize Online Information
A number of things can be done to sift through news to see if it’s reliable or credible. Ask these necessary questions:
- Are there a lot of advertisements?
- Are there lengthy headlines with eye-catching phrases?
- Is the wording different from the mainstream news?
- Do the words induce emotive responses?
- What is the response to the article?
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Listen to opposing opinions, gather your thoughts and try to do valid research when looking to formulate a response position. Are you open to understanding that your opinion may not be the right one?
Research Research Research
Make calls to credible sources, send an email to an oversight body like the FDA or Canadian Food Inspection Agency to find out if a type of product is regulated. Don’t blindly trust your health on claims made by an influencer or a big social media account. Understand that simply typing something into Google, might deliver you results that are exactly what you’re looking for although they might be wrong. If you still have questions about a health product, reach out to a doctor or dietician. When looking at product information or advertising claims online, make sure to take your time and don’t treat it like the impulse items near the check out at the store.
They’re Human Too
Just because a social influencer is popular, doesn’t mean they’re right. Be critical of claims made by influencers and ask yourself about the influencer’s motives, agenda or sources.
Look for an Ad Disclaimer
In most jurisdictions, an influencer must disclose that they are talking about a paid advertisement from a brand or product. Above all, understand that even if a product is right for one person, it may not be right for you.
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European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance. (n.d.). Protein Watch: What is protein spiking?. https://www.essna.com/protein-watch/#:~:text=%27Protein%20spiking%27%20%E2%80%93%20also%20known,label%20and%20avoid%20being%20caught
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