Featured Resource: Most Students Cannot Distinguish Fake and Real News (Wall Street Journal)
A Stanford University study found that 82% of middle school students could not distinguish between an advertisement labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a news homepage, highlighting the challenge of distinguishing between fact and fiction.
What are potential consequences when fake news goes viral? #DoNowFakeNews
How to Do Now
Do Now by posting a video response in this week’s Flipgrid. Join the conversation here.
You can also post your response on Twitter or in the comment section below. Be sure to include #DoNowFakeNews in your tweet.
It comes as little surprise that the web is chock full of commercial click-bait hoaxes: get-rich-quick schemes, free Caribbean cruises, erectile dysfunction treatments … you name it.
But as it turns out, the internet is also teeming with bogus information sites that masquerade as real news. And in the run-up to the 2016 election, many of these hoax news posts spread like wildfire. [Snopes, a fact-checking site, maintains a comprehensive and growing list of fake news outlets.]
President-elect Donald Trump’s contempt for “the mainstream media,” an industry he uniformly dismisses as a corrupt, lying “bunch of phony lowlifes,” has further obscured the boundaries between fact and fiction. So, too, has his use of Twitter to widely disseminate unsubstantiated allegations and, on numerous occasions, downright falsehoods.
One recent notably viral fake news headline espoused an utterly baseless conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C. family-friendly pizza place was actually a front for a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. Michael Flynn, Jr., son of retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — Trump’s pick for national security adviser, and a Clinton-related conspiracy theorist himself — further promoted the story, while serving on Trump’s transition team, by sharing it with his thousands of Twitter followers. The younger Flynn has since been removed from the transition team due to his aggressive trolling habit.
But the bogus rumor, which became known as Pizzagate, had some serious ramifications when a man armed with an assault rifle entered the restaurant on Sunday, Dec. 4 and fired several shots in what he later told police was an attempt to “self-investigate” the claim (there were no reported injuries).
To what degree the overall proliferation of fake news affected the election results remains unclear. But it almost certainly did have some impact, particularly on undecided voters.
What are potential consequences when fake news goes viral? Do you think you could spot fake news or would you be fooled? Why or why not?
ARTICLE: The Honest Truth About Fake News (The Lowdown/KQED)
Fake news is nothing new. Read more about how it’s recent impact on the 2016 election, its roots in yellow journalism, and more research examining student
AUDIO: Hearing From a Fake News Creator (NPR/Listenwise)
Fake news stories with clickable headlines that millions of people read and share have become a focus during the U.S. Presidential Election. People who run fake news sites make a lot of money from advertising. The identities of these fake news creators can be hard to track. In this story a reporter pursued one story to its creator to learn about why he started writing fake news. Listen to hear more about how untrue news goes viral, and who creates these stories.
AUDIO: Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Fake News Edition (On the Media/WNYC)
Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communications and media and Merrimack College, created a guide to help identify fake news websites and stories. Hear more about how it was developed.
ARTICLE: Facebook Is Turning to Fact-Checkers To Fight Fake News (Buzzfeed)
Fake news often spreads on social media through algorithmic curation and an accumulation of likes and shares. Read more about Facebook’s efforts to combat the phenomenon.