Fake News is a Real Problem
Graphic downloaded from The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. The IFLA is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession.
What is Fake News?
What is it and why is it in the news now?
Fake News is sometimes produced on purpose – as a joke, or what used to be called ‘disinformation’, which is malicious and intended to influence political situations or help people commit crimes. Most recently it is used to refer to “misinformed social media posts by regular people that are seized on and spread through a hyperpartisan blogosphere” (Maheshwari, Sapna. New York Times (Online), New York: New York Times Company. Nov 20, 2016. With large numbers of people reporting that they get their news from The Daily Show, it is not surprising that the lines between truth and fiction are being blurred.
While Fake News has always been with us, it is particularly visible now because of the level to which clearly false claims about people and events have entered our political process, from the beginnings of the most recent Presidential contest to the present day. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/fake-news-donald-trump-supporters-gullible-believe-anything-barack-obama-paedophile-hillary-clinton-a7623441.html).
Here are some examples of Fake News stories that were widely believed:
Downloaded from Statistica: https://www.statista.com/chart/6795/fake-news-is-a-real-problem/
How can you recognize Fake News?
- Look for unusual URLs or site names, including those that end with "lo" or ".com.co" -- these are often trying to appear like legitimate news sites, but they aren't.
- Look for signs of low quality, such as words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images. These are clues that you should be skeptical of the source.
- There is no "About Us" section, and it is hard to find out who supports the site or who is associated with it. If this information doesn't exist -- and if the site requires that you register before you can learn anything about its backers -- you have to wonder why they aren't being transparent.
- When you check it in Check Snopes, Wikipedia, and Google, you see that it has been discredited. Some news seems too good (or bad) to be true.
- Check your emotions. Clickbait and fake news strive for extreme reactions. If the news you're reading makes you really angry or super smug, it could be a sign that you're being played. Check multiple sources before trusting.
(Information from Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-spot-fake-news-and-teach-kids-to-be-media-savvy#)
The key to identifying and correcting Fake News is using the techniques you use to confirm the truth of ANY information:
- Is there a known and a trusted author?
- Is there an About Us that tells you by whom and why the information is produced?
- Is the information hosted by a reputable and reliable site (hint: Facebook is not required to check the facts of the stories it hosts)?
- If certain events are described, can you track them back to eye-witness accounts in newspapers or verified documents?
- Have images been photo-shopped?
- Finally, use your common sense. If one person or organzation reports something, and you can't find it picked up by any other reputale source, it's probably not believable.
How can you find the real story?
- Get to know the best sources for your purpose, and expose yourself to some that may challenge your beliefs
- There are reputable and reliable and accurate sources for news generally, and for all political positions and parties.
In this era of fake news, it is not enough to just hand sources to our students, or give them simplistic checklists of characteristics to look for. Bias - otherwise known as perspective - is complex and personal, and students need multiple opportunities to query sources - to explore them with their peers as well as their teachers - as to their legitimacy and purpose on many levels.
Matteson, A. (2017). Check your news-literacy bias. School Library Journal, 63(04), 20. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1883204280?accountid=776
An interesting and scholarly look at how humor, parody, and comedy work within popular culture to undermine our ability to distinguish fact from fiction.
Kothe, A. (2007). When fake is more real: Of fools, parody, and the daily show with Jon Stewart. Americana : The Journal of American Popular Culture, 1900 to Present, 6(2) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1519969539?accountid=776
A British newspaper perspective of the relationship between Fke News and the Trump candidacy and presidential election.
What is fake news? its origins and how it grew under Donald Trump. (2017, Feb 24). Telegraph.Co.Uk Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1871715174?accountid=776