What is fake news? More than likely, you don’t know. That’s one of the conclusions of a new study from Stanford that examined students’ ability to identify and analyze news sources.
More than 7,800 students in college, high school and middle school from 12 states were asked to review news presented in Facebook comments, tweets and articles. According to the researchers, the students showed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” that was a “threat to democracy.”
The report concluded that middle schoolers cannot tell the difference between native ads and actual news articles, such as from Slate. And that high schoolers can’t identify fake news sources from real ones on Facebook. Even the students at Harvard that participated couldn’t identify the difference between a fringe, highly-biased source and a mainstream one.
According to President Obama, fake news, or “active misinformation,” is “packaged very well, and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television.” An analysis by Buzzfeed supports this notion, concluding that fake news stories spread quicker than real news from the major newspapers like the New York Times.
When seeking out news, it is crucial to determine whether the article you are reading is from a legitimate source or not. Due to the era of easily-manipulated and highly-fabricated information we find ourselves in, we must exercise scrutiny when intaking information from various media platforms.
We ought to examine bylines and look into the author’s professional history, check the “contact us” page on websites, look at advertisements, read articles closely and investigate the sources presented.
Sure, it might take you a minute to click over to another tab and run a search on what proof actually exists behind various claims of voter fraud, if any, but it will get you one step closer to the truth.
Look up unfamiliar terms, check the accuracy of one article by comparing it to others on similar topics and, please, for God’s sake read the entire article you share on Facebook as opposed to just reposting a story with a flashy headline. It seems like common sense, but people do it.
Just because something is common knowledge does not mean it is factually proven.
Don’t fall victim to fake news, do your research, seek out sources with integrity and stay (accurately) informed.
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