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Fake News, Alternative Facts, Propaganda
Where do you get your news? Traditional news sources like newspapers and news organizations? Social media like Facebook? A recent survey from the Pew Research Center (Links to an external site.) showed that about 48% of American adults get news from social media.
- 59% of Twitter users get their news regularly from Twitter
- 47% of Facebook users get their news regularly from Facebook
- 39% of Reddit users get their news regularly from Reddit
With so many outlets for news these days we must be very critical about where our news comes from.
A 2016 study at Stanford University (Links to an external site.) showed that students that are digital savvy were showing "a dismaying inability to reason about information that they had found on the Internet" and they had a "hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where the information came from." A more recent follow up study from Stanford (Links to an external site.) reaffirmed that students have trouble judging the credibility of information online.
It is important to be aware of what the news source's intentions are. Why are they publishing this news? Are they a legitimate news source? Is this a political organization? A special interest group? Is this trying to influence me in some way? Is it propaganda (Links to an external site.)? Are they trying to get an emotional response? Is this clickbait (Links to an external site.)? Sometimes it is hard to tell because "fake news is a made-up story with an intention to deceive, often geared toward getting clicks." (Links to an external site.) We have all seen those headlines for stories that grab the eye and make us want to click on the link to get more of the story.
How to Spot Fake News
Websites for Fact Checking
- FactCheck.Org (Links to an external site.)
A project of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Annenberg Public Policy Center, which monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major US political players, such as politicians and lobbyists.
- PolitiFact (Links to an external site.)
Staff from the Tampa Bay Times publish original statements by US political players, check their factual accuracy, and assign each a rating ranging from "True" to "Pants on Fire."
- Media Bias/Fact Check (Links to an external site.)
Includes a searchable database of media sources and articles that are categorized according to bias, from extreme left to extreme right. Note that "bias" is subjective, and not the same thing as "fact."
- Snopes (Links to an external site.)
An independent website that covers urban legends, modern folklore, internet rumours, and other stories of questionable origin.
- AP-Not Real News (Links to an external site.)
A weekly roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals shared on social media.