Tag Archives: Fake News

Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

5 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART:

Moi read with interest the following article from the Daily Mail, Can tear-jerkers turn you liberal? As Good As It Gets and The Rainmaker make you soppy, says study:

Sentimental films make you more liberal, research suggests.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports.
Todd Adkins, of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said audiences seemed to turn off their critical faculties when they reach the cinema.
Sentimental films, such as The Rainmaker (pictured), make you more liberal, research suggests
‘Viewers come expecting to be entertained and are not prepared to encounter and evaluate political messages as they would during campaign advertisements or network news,’ he said.
Dr Adkins’ research, published in the journal Social Science Quarterly, was based on a study of 268 students who were asked about their political views, shown a film and then questioned again.
Half identified themselves as politically conservative.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530224/Can-tear-jerkers-turn-liberal-As-Good-As-It-Gets-The-Rainmaker-make-soppy-says-study.html#ixzz2pC6I7eaD

See, Moving Pictures? Experimental Evidence of Cinematic Influence on Political Attitudes†
Todd Adkins,
Jeremiah J. Castle*
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2013
DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12070
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ssqu.12070/abstract

There is a long history of movies being used as propaganda. The History Learning Site said this in the article, Propaganda in Nazi Germany:

Hitler came to power in January 1933. By May 1933, the Nazi Party felt sufficiently strong to publicly demonstrate where their beliefs were going when Goebbels organised the first of the infamous book burning episodes. Books that did not match the Nazi ideal was burnt in public – loyal Nazis ransacked libraries to remove the ‘offending’ books. “Where one burns books, one eventually burns people” commented the author Brecht.
The same approach was used in films. The Nazis controlled film production. Films released to the public concentrated on certain issues : the Jews; the greatness of Hitler; the way of life for a true Nazi especially children, and as World War Two approached, how badly Germans who lived in countries in Eastern Europe were treated. Leni Riefenstahl was given a free hand in producing Nazi propaganda films. A young film producer, she had impressed Hitler with her ability. It was Riefenstahl who made “Triumph of Will” – considered one of the greatest of propaganda films despite its contents.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/propaganda_in_nazi_germany.htm

Hollywood films quite often represent cultural propaganda.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New York article, The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Is on Your Screen:

You don’t have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television (I’m not) to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism. Americans for Responsible Television and Christian Leaders for Responsible Television would be flipping out over the modern family in Modern Family, not to mention the girls of Girls and the gays of Glee, except that those groups went defunct long ago. The liberal analysis of the economic crisis—that unregulated finance took wild gambles—has been widely reflected, even blatantly so, in movies like Margin Call, Too Big to Fail, and the Wall Street sequel. The conservative view that all blame lies with regulations forcing banks to lend to poor people has not, except perhaps in the amateur-hour production of Atlas Shrugged. The muscular Rambo patriotism that briefly surged in the eighties, and seemed poised to return after 9/11, has disappeared. In its place we have series like Homeland, which probes the moral complexities of a terrorist’s worldview, and action stars like Jason Bourne, whose enemies are not just foreign baddies but also paranoid Dick Cheney figures. The conservative denial of climate change, and the low opinion of environmentalism that accompanies it, stands in contrast to cautionary end-times tales like Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and the tree-hugging mysticism of Avatar. The decade has also seen a revival of political films and shows, from the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre through Veep and The Campaign, both of which cast oilmen as the heavies. Even The Muppets features an evil oil driller stereotypically named “Tex Richman.”
In short, the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. That shared reality is the cultural assumptions, in particular, of the younger voters whose support has become the bedrock of the Democratic Party….
A trio of communications professors found that watching Will & Grace made audiences more receptive to gay rights, and especially viewers who had little contact in real life with gays and lesbians. And that one show was merely a component of a concerted effort by Hollywood—dating back to Soap in the late seventies, which featured Billy Crystal’s groundbreaking portrayal of a sympathetic gay character, through Modern Family—to prod audiences to accept homosexuality. Likewise, the political persona of Barack Obama attained such rapid acceptance and popularity in part because he represented the real-world version of an archetype that, after a long early period of servile black stereotypes, has appeared in film and television for years: a sober, intelligent African-American as president, or in some other position of power….
This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite. http://nymag.com/news/features/chait-liberal-movies-tv-2012-8/

Some social media companies are labeling news or posts which they consider fake as “fake news” based upon their standards.

Science Daily reported in The catch to putting warning labels on fake news:

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.
That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.
“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.
“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.
Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”
Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.
The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better
To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”
The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.
However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.
“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.
“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications
The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.
“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200303140216.htm

Citation:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news
Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A new study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Journal Reference:
Gordon Pennycook, Adam Bear, Evan T. Collins, David G. Rand. The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings. Management Science, 2020; DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

Here is the press release from MIT:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

Study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

March 2, 2020

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.

That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.

“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.

“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.

Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”

Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.

The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better

To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”

The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.

However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.

“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.

“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications

The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.

“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says.
Rand notes that, while continued research on the subject is important, the current study suggests a straightforward way that social media platforms can take action to further improve their systems of labeling online news content.

“I think this has clear policy implications when platforms are thinking about attaching warnings,” he says. “They should be very careful to check not just the effect of the warnings on the content with the tag, but also check the effects on all the other content.”

Support for the research was provided, in part, by the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative of the Miami Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
________________________________________
More information: Gordon Pennycook et al, The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings, Management Science (2020). DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

The issue is whether the public in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in content. Schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Lancaster University study: April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’

30 Mar

The Guardian article, What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it described fake news:

Surely it’s easy to tell fake news from real news
Actually, no.
A recent study carried out by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education assessed more than 7,800 responses from middle school, high school and college students in 12 US states on their ability to assess information sources.
Advertisement
Researchers were “shocked” by students’ “stunning and dismaying consistency” to evaluate information at even as basic a level as distinguishing advertisements from articles.
If you think you, an adult with an internet connection, are better placed than a middle school student to assess sources, this collection of comments on “literally unbelievable” humour stories is humbling.
It’s not that readers are stupid, or even necessarily credulous: it’s that the news format is easy to imitate and some true stories are outlandish enough to beggar belief.
Where do these stories come from?
In its purest form, fake news is completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue. Examples include: “Transgender tampon now on the market”, “Pope Francis at White House: ‘Koran and Holy Bible are the same’”, “U2’s Bono rescued during terror attack, issues sick message to victims”.
Hosted on websites that often followed design conventions of online news media, with anodyne titles such as “Civic Tribune” and “Life Event Web” to give the semblance of legitimacy, the stories are geared to travel on social media.
With clicks come profit: a man running a string of fake news sites from Los Angeles told National Public Radio that he made as much as US$30,000 a month from advertising that rewards high traffic. More than 100 pro-Trump fake news websites were being run by teenagers in one town in Macedonia…
So, how do you tell what is fake news?
Soon, Facebook will flag stories of questionable legitimacy with an alert that says “Disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers”. There are three Google Chrome plugins and one just released by Slate that do similar as you browse the web.
Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, compiled this list of websites that either purposely publish false information or are otherwise entirely unreliable, broken down by category – and published a helpful list of tips for analysing news sources.
But Facebook’s approach has shortcomings and no list can ever be complete. You can’t go wrong by prioritising outlets known to be legitimate, and reading a lot of them. If it is published on the Guardian – just for example – it may well not be news, but it won’t be fake news. (Sorry, Breitbart.)
If you’re not sure if a site is legitimate, look for any red flags in its domain name, such as “.com.co”, and its About Us section. Google the sources of any quotes or figures given in the story – most fake news don’t have either, a warning sign in itself.
If the first you’ve heard of a particular event is from a website you’ve never heard of, there may be a reason. Be sceptical of stories about Trump, Clinton, the Pope, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, and particularly of stories about any of them pledging allegiance to Isis.
Rest assured, if Bieber does pledge allegiance to Isis, mainstream media will cover it…. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/18/what-is-fake-news-pizzagate

See, “Fake News,” Lies and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction https://guides.lib.umich.edu/fakenews and What Is Fake News? https://www.prageru.com/video/what-is-fake-news/

Science Daily reported in April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’:

Studying April Fools hoax news stories could offer clues to spotting ‘fake news’ articles, new research reveals.
Academic experts in Natural Language Processing from Lancaster University who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories.
They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes — the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1st — and malicious fake news stories.
The researchers have compiled a novel dataset, or corpus, of more than 500 April Fools articles sourced from more than 370 websites and written over 14 years.
“April Fools hoaxes are very useful because they provide us with a verifiable body of deceptive texts that give us an opportunity to find out about the linguistic techniques used when an author writes something fictitious disguised as a factual account,” said Edward Dearden from Lancaster University, and lead-author of the research. “By looking at the language used in April Fools and comparing them with fake news stories we can get a better picture of the kinds of language used by authors of disinformation.”
A comparison of April Fools hoax texts against genuine news articles written in the same period — but not published on April 1st — revealed stylistic differences.
Researchers focused on specific features within the texts, such as the amount of details used, vagueness, formality of writing style and complexity of language.
They then compared the April Fools stories with a ‘fake news’ dataset, previously compiled by a different team of researchers.
Although not all of the features found in April Fools hoaxes were found to be useful for detecting fake news, there were a number of similar characteristics found across both.
They found April Fools hoaxes and fake news articles tend to contain less complex language, an easier reading difficulty, and longer sentences than genuine news.
Important details for news stories, such as names, places, dates and times, were found to be used less frequently within April Fools hoaxes and fake news. However, proper nouns, such as the names of prominent politicians ‘Trump’ or ‘Hillary’, are more abundant in fake news than in genuine news articles or April Fools, which have significantly fewer…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190329130206.htm

Citation:

April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’
Date: March 29, 2019
Source: Lancaster University
Summary:
Academic experts in natural language processing who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories. They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes — the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1 — and malicious fake news stories.

Here is the press release from Lancaster University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 29-MAR-2019
April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’
LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
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Studying April Fools hoax news stories could offer clues to spotting ‘fake news’ articles, new research reveals.
Academic experts in Natural Language Processing from Lancaster University who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories.
They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes – the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1st – and malicious fake news stories.
The researchers have compiled a novel dataset, or corpus, of more than 500 April Fools articles sourced from more than 370 websites and written over 14 years.
“April Fools hoaxes are very useful because they provide us with a verifiable body of deceptive texts that give us an opportunity to find out about the linguistic techniques used when an author writes something fictitious disguised as a factual account,” said Edward Dearden from Lancaster University, and lead-author of the research. “By looking at the language used in April Fools and comparing them with fake news stories we can get a better picture of the kinds of language used by authors of disinformation.”
A comparison of April Fools hoax texts against genuine news articles written in the same period – but not published on April 1st – revealed stylistic differences.
Researchers focused on specific features within the texts, such as the amount of details used, vagueness, formality of writing style and complexity of language.
They then compared the April Fools stories with a ‘fake news’ dataset, previously compiled by a different team of researchers.
Although not all of the features found in April Fools hoaxes were found to be useful for detecting fake news, there were a number of similar characteristics found across both.
They found April Fools hoaxes and fake news articles tend to contain less complex language, an easier reading difficulty, and longer sentences than genuine news.
Important details for news stories, such as names, places, dates and times, were found to be used less frequently within April Fools hoaxes and fake news. However, proper nouns, such as the names of prominent politicians ‘Trump’ or ‘Hillary’, are more abundant in fake news than in genuine news articles or April Fools, which have significantly fewer.
First person pronouns, such as ‘we’, are also a prominent feature for both April Fools and fake news. This goes against traditional thinking in deception detection, which suggests liars use fewer first person pronouns.
The researchers found that April fools hoax stories, when compared to genuine news:
• Are generally shorter in length
• Use more unique words
• Use longer sentences
• Are easier to read
• Refer to vague events in the future
• Contain more references to the present
• Are less interested in past events
• Contain fewer proper nouns
• Use more first person pronouns
Fake news stories, when compared to genuine news:
• Are shorter in length
• Are easier to read
• Use simplistic language
• Contain fewer punctuation marks
• Contain more proper nouns
• Are generally less formal – use more first names such as ‘Hillary’ and contain more profanity and spelling mistakes
• Contain very few dates
• Use more first person pronouns
The researchers also created a machine learning ‘classifier’ to identify if articles are April Fools hoaxes, fake news or genuine news stories. The classifier achieved a 75 per cent accuracy at identifying April Fools articles and 72 per cent for identifying fake news stories. When the classifier was trained on April Fools hoaxes and set the task of identifying fake news it recorded an accuracy of more than 65 per cent.
Dr Alistair Baron, co-author of the paper, said: “Looking at details and complexities within a text are crucial when trying to determine if an article is a hoax. Although there are many differences, our results suggest that April Fools and fake news articles share some similar features, mostly involving structural complexity.
“Our findings suggest that there are certain features in common between different forms of disinformation and exploring these similarities may provide important insights for future research into deceptive news stories.”
The research has been outlined in the paper ‘Fool’s Errand: Looking at April Fools Hoaxes as Disinformation through the Lens of Deception and Humour’, which will be presented at the 20th International Conference on Computational Linguistics and Intelligent Text Processing, to be held in La Rochelle in April.
###
The paper’s authors are Edward Dearden and Alistair Baron of Lancaster University. Edward Dearden’s PhD studies have been supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

The University of West Florida has a great guide to avoiding fake news.

In Fake News the University of West Florida discussed fake news:

Fact-Checking: The Facts
#1: Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate
• Use criteria to evaluate a source. In Libraries, we often use the CRAAP Test* to evaluate websites, and these criteria are useful for evaluating news as well. These criteria are:
o Currency: is the information current? Many times on Facebook, you will click on a story and notice that the date was from a few months or years ago, but your “friends” are acting outraged as if it is happening in the moment.
o Relevance: is the information important to your research needs? This criterion perhaps applies most if you are out seeking information, rather than just stumbling across it. Does the information relate to your question and at the appropriate-level (elementary/advanced)? Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this one?
o Authority: who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the news? Do they have authority on the subject? Do they have an agenda?
o Accuracy: Is the information supported by evidence? Does the author cite credible sources? Is the information verifiable in other places?
o Purpose: What is the purpose of this news? To outrage? To call to action? To inform? To sell? This can give you clues about bias.
So, finally, is your news source CRAAP? More on Fact-Checking:
#2: Google It!
If you found out something via social media, you should take 5 seconds and just Google it! More often than not, a Google search will show:
• If other reputable news sites are reporting on the same thing
• If a fact-check website has already debunked the claim
• If only biased news organizations are reporting the claim — in this case, it may require more digging.
I would say that most of the time, 5 seconds is all you need before you hit the angry, the like, the love, or – WORSE! – the share button!
#3: Get News from News Sources
One of the easiest ways to avoid the trap of fake news to begin with may seem obvious:
Go directly to credible news websites for your news.
Relying on Facebook to see what is “trending” or what is being shared across your newsfeed means you have to verify every single meme or news article you come across. Why not rely on news apps on your phone that go to news websites for that?
• Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France.
• Associated Press
An independent, non-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City.
• Reuters
The world’s largest international multimedia news agency.
**Keep in mind that even some reputable news sites have biases and may tell the facts in different ways.**
• British Broadcasting Company
• National Public Radio
• New York Times
• Wall Street Journal
• The Washington Post
• All Sides
All Sides says that its mission is to: “expose bias and provide multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.”

All Sides displays the same news stories from multiple news outlets (along with their rating of their conservative or liberal bias). This is a great way to learn how the same story is reported differently in different outlets.
#4: Distinguish Opinion from Fact
Even news websites and programs have spaces or shows dedicated to people’s opinions of news stories. In newspapers, these sections may be called:
• Editorials
• Letters to the Editor
• Op-Eds
• Opinion
Opinion shows many times now dominate cable news sources. You may agree with the opinions presented, or they may contextualize the facts for you in a way that makes sense. However, realize they are presenting the facts in a way that meets their agenda and think for yourself: How might “the other side” present these same facts?
Examples of opinion shows on news channels are:
• The O’Reilly Factor
• Hardball with Chris Matthews
• Fox & Friends
• The Rachel Maddow Show
• Anderson Cooper 360
#5: Watch out for red flags!
• Does the link end with .co instead of .com?
• Are there small disclaimers, something that says “satire”?
• When you click on a story in social media, is it a story that is outdated? Why is it being circulated now?
• Is it posted by so-and-so? …We all have that one friend on social media. https://libguides.uwf.edu/c.php?g=609513&p=4274530

The most important tool to combating fake news is Critical Thinking.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking defines critical thinking:

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness….
Why Critical Thinking?
The Problem
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and
imposing intellectual standards upon them.
The Result
A well cultivated critical thinker:
• raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
• gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
• thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
• communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism…. http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766

The mind is like a muscle, it must be exercised.

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