What is fake news?
Fake news has recently launched into public debate, partly due to alleged Russian intervention in foreign political processes (Peters, 2017). Oxford Dictionaries define this phenomenon as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. Fake news articles deliberately intend to mislead readers to promote an agenda or idea.
You might find an article like this on Facebook – would you share this with friends on UOSM2008?
88% young adults over the age of 18 now get their news from Facebook and it’s concerning how young people decided whether a news story was fake or not (Shellenbarger, 2016). Xavier Voigt-Hill, Ryan Dodd and myself investigated fake news and social media last year.
It’s been commented that “fake news is a consequence of the democratization of media that we heralded with web 2.0” (Prosser, 2016). I agree – capabilities created by Web 2.0 give free speech to everyone and everything worldwide, those with good intentions, and bad.
But what can I do?
- Make use of fact-checking tools available to you.
- Check an article (see below) before sharing it.
Google has created a schema that allows publishers to contest claims made on other websites. For the made-up article above, you could see this in your Google search results:
Facebook have also rolled out a fact-checking service that you can use, however, its rare to see a ‘disputed tag’ actually appear on reported content, reports Levin (2017), while also casting doubt on Facebook’s eagerness to stop the spread of fake news.
There are many things you can do to check the authenticity of information you find online also. Although 10 years old, Metzger’s (2007) compilation of “suggested factors” I found the most thorough (p.2082).
Pro tip: Don’t just read the headline, click on the article to read on and follow the checklist above 🙌.
(Word Count: 312 excluding in-text citations)
- Oxford Dictionaries definition of ‘post-truth’ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/post-truth
- Levin, S. (2017). ‘Way too little, way too late’: Facebook’s factcheckers say effort is failing. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/13/way-too-little-way-too-late-facebooks-fact-checkers-say-effort-is-failing
- Metzger, M. (2007). Making sense of credibility on the Web: Models for evaluating online information and recommendations for future research. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(13), pp.2078-2091.
- Peters, M. (2017). The information wars, fake news and the end of globalisation. Educational Philosophy and Theory, pp.1-4.
- Prosser, N. (2018). Facebook, fake news, internet bubbles, and the sins of web 2.0. [online] Clicktivist. Available at: http://www.clicktivist.org/posts/2016/11/draft-the-moral-responsibility-of-facebook.
- Shellenbarger, S. (2016). Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds. [online] WSJ. Available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/most-students-dont-know-when-news-is-fake-stanford-study-finds-1479752576