ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We’ve been covering politics this whole year and at 10News WTSP, and we’ve seen people with all sorts of strong opinions.

Some of those opinions have been formed or bolstered through misinformation.

That bring us to the heart of what we try to do as journalists.

We try to accurately represent the range of opinion and emotion in our communities, but then explain with facts to inform.

If you don't have facts, you don't have a story that can help you at home watching make an informed decision on important issues.

And that's why this story is important.

There are consequences to all of those fake headlines.

Our democracy is founded on the principal that you, me, and all past voters can, do, and did make informed decisions.

That's what we want to help you do here at 10News.

But put fake news flying all over Facebook and the rest of social media -- especially during the election -- and there's a problem.

Take it from social media expert Eli Pariser, CEO of Upworthy as he spoke during a TED Talk all the way back in 2011. Fake news feeds on itself and becomes a vicious circle of misinformation because of the way Facebook and other social media companies watch what you interact with.

“Because they're mainly looking at what you click on first, it can throw off that balance,” Pariser said. “And instead of a balanced information diet, you can end up surrounded by information junk food.”

“The thing is the algorithms don't yet have the kind of embedded ethics that the editors did,” he said.

And that's the problem. Like we said at the start, look at this chart from Buzzfeed News.

The amount of fake news consumed leading up to the election was huge.

It even surpassed that of mainstream news near the end of the election by 1.5 million interactions, so the amount of people who saw those headlines without reading more is above and beyond even that.

This whole thing erodes trust in real news sources who vet interviews and work to make sure we're right before we publish.