Fake News: Filter Them Out!

Social media platforms stand in the forefront as the ultimate shared space for engagement. It is difficult to discount the new media age we are now in and how big of a scale the digital and interactive processes have changed throughout the years. As social media sites have now become the leading source for news, users have become participants as a result by spreading and commenting on these news. According to the Pew Research Center, recent studies show that two-thirds (67%) of Americans get their news on social media (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017). From this percentage, there are people who will believe and share these unverified claims. Having said that, content that initiates discussion is the sole factor that makes social networking sites the outlet for posting trending news. Whether it’d be fake or not, these outlets have no filter. Whose responsibility is it then to filter out these fake news? Is it the responsibility of social media companies or social media news consumers?

Following the 2016 US election, fake stories took a toll on the public where it triggered the infamous “Pizzagate” incident (Fisher, Cox, & Hermann, 2016). Since then, social media companies struggled to make their platform as democratic and as civil as possible. As expected, it is very time consuming and costly for social media companies to address the problem of fake news. However, Facebook has taken the initiative to combat election interference last month as a way to address the fake news situation. Watch Mark Zuckerberg outline the company’s plan to fight election interference in this short video below:

The 9 steps as stated in the video:

  1. Continue working with the US government
  2. Continue internal Facebook investigation
  3. Make political ads more transparent
  4. Strengthen ad review
  5. Increasing election security and integrity
  6. Expand election partnerships globally
  7. Increasing collaboration with other tech companies
  8. Strengthen the democratic process
  9. Continue work monitoring the German election

From what Zuckerberg explained, it seems like providing publisher information is Facebook’s ultimate way at fighting fake news. To put that into action, Facebook has recently launched a new feature where there would be a lowercase “i” next to articles. The “info” button supposedly allows Facebook users to look more into the news sources with just a click (This Is Facebook’s Latest Idea to Fight Fake News, 2017).

What is funny is that the public is reacting negatively to this and calling this “fake news” instead. I found the same video above uploaded on YouTube by many different users and every one of them has as many dislikes as likes. And from what I can see in the comment section, most users are criticizing the nature of the “truth” in the video, claiming that Facebook is the one undermining democracy through censorship and attacking the US government and Zuckerberg himself. Along with their plan, the company handed 3000 Russia-linked ads, which contributed to spreading misleading information before the 2016 election, over to the US congress. Despite all of these attempts to fight fake news, Facebook continues to be criticized for the dissemination of fake stories following last year’s presidential election. Ultimately, the nature of the “truth” is questioned by many people since fake news appears to have the tendency to impact public knowledge. While social media companies like Facebook attempts to address the situation of fake news, many people are triggered by its validity and perhaps, the profit that social networking sites are making is the reason why people have trust issues.

Fake news or not, some social media platforms have no intentions to filter out fake news and they don’t have to. This is because social media companies operate on them. They make money off of these lies and there is an economy that follows it (Fake news and online harassment, 2016). Fake stories get people talking and that is the main reason why social media platforms are an ideal space for engagement. Social media consumers are able to share, like, dislike, comment, post, tweet which creates this online community that welcomes everyone, including their thoughts. People are active and online discussing the topic despite it being good or bad, or true or false, and this type of behaviour brings in money. This is essentially where Internet revenues and profit come from. On Twitter for example, fake news are capable of generating thousands of tweets and retweets. With this significant amount, Twitter is using this engagement factor to get sponsorships from advertisers and to put this into perspective, Twitter earns 85 percent of its revenues from advertising (Fake news and online harassment, 2016). Fake news are strong drivers of profit and if we can’t rely on social media companies to filter out these fake news, can we, as social media news consumers, make a difference? Are we able to identify what is fake and what is real?

How do you identify fake news? Even with social media companies’ attempts to provide tools for users to get more context on the news source, the most reliable tool is to use your own common sense (Annett, 2017). Remember, trust no one.

First, filter out the sites that you don’t know. Ask yourself if you trust the source of the information first. Especially the ones that you don’t normally visit, the ones that just have pure entertainment value, or the ones that you know are the usual suspects of fake news. Trust your instinct and use your common sense because that will narrow down your options of which ones to skip and which ones to trust. Next, look for indicators that verifies its validity and credibility. For example, many social media platforms now have the blue verification checkmark beside their username. Aside from that, look out for misspelled words because that will discount their reliability. Lastly, see if they are in tuned with other news sources because social networking sites can be inconsistent so make sure the details match up (Annett, 2017).

We have all encountered fake news at one point since our generation is so consumed by the new media. Rather than saying the world is getting bigger, the world is actually getting smaller because we are connected to news from different parts of the world through the Internet. We are able to expand our knowledge about the world and stay connected with everyone. Because we are so connected, it makes it easier for us to be exposed to outrageous and unverified claims. And the more we see something, the more we believe it. Since fake news have the potential to become viral, it also makes it easier for us to believe in them. Fake news are everywhere at this point but with the appropriate steps, we can avoid them.

References

Annett, E. (2017, June 19). What is ‘fake news,’ and how can you spot it? Try our quiz. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/community/digital-lab/fake-news-quiz-how-to-spot/article33821986/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&

Fake news and online harassment are more than social media byproducts – theyre powerful prof… (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www.salon.com/2016/12/17/fake-news-and-online-harassment-are-more-than-social-media-byproducts-theyre-powerful-profit-drivers/

Fisher, M., Cox, J. W., & Hermann, P. (2016, December 06). Pizzagate: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pizzagate-from-rumor-to-hashtag-to-gunfire-in-dc/2016/12/06/4c7def50-bbd4-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.678557d48678

This Is Facebook’s Latest Idea to Fight Fake News. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2017/10/05/facebook-test-more-info-button-fake-news/

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 07). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/

 

You’ll never guess what I just read…

Header from Google Images

Essay #1 – Social media as a source of news

If I was a stranger who approached you on the street and told you a piece of news that hasn’t been widespread yet, would you believe me? Let’s be real, probably not.

But if I started up a professional looking site and posted something about it on my website, would you believe me? Maybe not, but there is probably a higher chance – even if it is just a slim one – that you would than if I just approached you on the street.

Almost a year ago, my friend came to me upset because she had an argument with her friend. She claimed that she was tired of her friend being so opinionated, but with opinions that were not even hers.

At first I was confused, but she told me that she would read news or editorials online and believe everything she read. Her opinions were easily swayed, maybe even nonexistent.

I understood her frustration since I know a lot of people are quick to jump to conclusions after seeing articles online. Anderson (2016) noted that in the 2016 election, 20% of social media users modified their stance on a social or political issue or views on a particular candidate because of content they read on social media about candidates and their platforms.

So why do some of us lose our common sense when we stumble across articles online telling us about how eating some new food will make our lives longer, going blonde will indeed guarantee us more fun, or the key to happiness is achieved through this list of activities?

Social media is so impressive because we have access to all sorts of information worldwide within minutes. Unfortunately, without proper precautions, anyone can sound like an expert on the internet so our opinions can be swayed with greater ease.

While there are a lot of sketchy things floating around in the web, social media has always been my go-to source for current events. The weird thing is, I do not even find myself looking for news purposely.

I can find out about the hottest local or international news within 24 hours of their occurrence/broadcast because of my social networks and their involvement in sharing. Why? It is like the spread of gossip. Someone see something then shares it with their friends, who shares it with their friends, who shares it with their friends, and it continues on. Occasionally I’ll be scrolling through my feed on Facebook and I will see a news article being shared by multiple people or people posting statuses if something has happened. Naturally when I see it, I am curious and end up looking into it. I guess I’m not the only one who experiences this. In 2014, 78 percent of the the people who read news online just found articles incidentally through networking and sharing (Desilver, 2014).

Personally, the first thing I do when reading news I find on social media is talk to someone nearby (that I know, obviously, whether they are the friend I am currently with or my parents). I like to see their reaction, whether they have heard about it or not, and discuss their take on the issue. It is a form of small talk that is easy to engage in. People often believe me before asking where I found out. Since we know each other well, they view me as a trusted source of information. For that reason, when friends spread news, we are more likely to trust the links they share.  Therefore, it is also more likely to elicit a response from us to share this information whether online or offline, online being sharing it to your social networks, offline being discussing it with friends or family in person (Bialik & Matsa, 2017).

The more people in your social network that see these shared posts, the more the posts may potentially be shared. As a result, you may end up seeing the articles pop up multiple times through different people and on different social media platforms. According to a recent undergoing academic Yale study, familiarity plays a role in our belief of fake news (Pennycook, Cannon & Rand, 2017). The more often we see it, whether it is shared by our friends or pops up as a trending topic on various social media platforms we use, the more likely we are to believe it because it is so widespread.

While it may seem like a many of us are easily swayed by information we find through social media, Bialik & Matsa’s (2017) research says otherwise – only 5% of web-using U.S. adults have high trust in the information found on social media. Personally, before reading a news article, I usually look for sources such CBC or equivalent well known news channels that broadcast on TV as well – I can thank my teachers and professors that have tried to guide me in the right direction when it comes to reliable sources. However, I can see how it is extremely easy to encounter fake news. While scrolling my Facebook feed, often I encounter articles articles that appear with a header “Articles you might like” with no indication that these articles were shared by my friends. Generally it is a site I’ve never heard of and is clearly an opinion or one of those blogger sites rather than factual information with backup evidence.

The spread of news through social media is like back in high school when you heard a piece of hot gossip from you friend – it brings you excitement, you feel informed on the school’s current events, and it gives you something to talk about. You’re not sure if it’s true or not, until you talk to someone “reliable” – ie: the popular girl in school who is claimed to know everything, the person directly themselves, their best friend they might have confided in, etc. In the end, when compared to this analogy, maybe we haven’t lost common sense from going online. Maybe we just never had any… and just moved the discussion from in person to online.

Just kidding, I’m sure most of us have moved on past those childish tendencies in high school… or at least I hope so.

 

Stay skeptical kids.

 

 

References

Anderson, M. (2016). Social media causes some users to rethink their views on an issue. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/07/social-media-causes-some-users-to-rethink-their-views-on-an-issue/

Bialik, K., Matsa, K.E. (2017). Key trends in social and digital news media. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/04/key-trends-in-social-and-digital-news-media/

Desilver, D. (2014). Facebook is a news source for many, but only incidentally. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/04/facebook-is-a-news-source-for-many-but-only-incidentally/

Pennycook, G., Cannon, T.D., Rand, D.G., (2017). Prior exposure increases perceived accuracy of fake news. Retrieved from: https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=882123066117005091070016003016003104017037064079033004076088090068091112087005127000036041017035040124044001120071004065005064038045044040053070028003099123113122102002081037124066126027115103085094009100118001088126107106123012100025118068100104025067&EXT=pdf

Google’s Excuse for Spreading Fake News

Over the past decade, social media has taken over the communicational landscape as most users interact online to discuss their personal lives, upcoming events, and most importantly, the news. As a result of looking to social media for their daily news, users are subjected to both true and false accounts, which has recently become a problem because the websites have large audiences who are, in most instances, unaware of the validity of the content. Alexis Madrigal’s, “Google and Facebook Failed Us” (2017) highlights Google’s role in promoting false stories claiming the Las Vegas shooter who killed 59 people was a Democrat who despised Donald Trump, when the identity had not even been revealed yet. It was later confirmed by authorities that the shooter was Stephen Paddock, who had later been found dead in his hotel room (Ohlheiser, 2017). The story originated on 4chan, a popular source of racism, hoaxes, and misinformation. Nonetheless, Google played a major role spreading the false information, better known as ‘fake news.’

Fake News
The term, ‘fake news’ refers to content that helps spread misleading, low-quality and false information (Hern, 2017). It is a major barrier to the dissemination of information online, considering the influence of social media on public opinion. As of 2017, two-thirds of U.S. adults look to social media for their news content. Considering how much the role of technology has increased and evolved over the past decade, this is not surprising (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017).

(Shearer & Gottfried, 2017)

Google, which is one of the world’s largest tech companies, has a massive audience to whom they are subjecting to false information. Less educated and older Americans are increasingly using social media to follow the news (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017), which makes them more malleable because they may not know how to properly evaluate the validity of sources Therefore, the likelihood of fake news infecting the minds of readers is likely, especially with such a website as Google, which has a large audience.

(Shearer & Gottfried, 2017)

Google’s Role
Google’s role in spreading the fake news was a result of a change they made to their algorithm in late 2014, in which they chose to include non-journalistic sources in their “In the News” box instead of taking the sources straight from their news feed. This allowed for search results to include content from Reddit discussions, blog posts, videos, and more from non-news websites (Sullivan, 2014). It does not make sense for discussion posts to be included in their news feed when they provide no credibility as to whom the source is and their credentials. Most times, discussions include opinion and are of an anecdotal nature. Regardless of that, it cannot be guaranteed whether discussions have a factual basis or not and with Google’s fault algorithm, this misinformation can seep through the cracks and into the communication channel.

Immediacy
Being that social media takes place online, there is no need to wait for articles to print when they can be posted immediately. Whenever an event occurs, the content is immediately posted. The 4chan post that incorrectly identified the shooter came up in the search results because it was recent. Immediacy works for and against social media because on one hand, social media helps to inform the public of news events as they are occurring, but on the other, the possibility of misinformation is high because not enough time is given to provide evidence to back up points that are made.

Googles Mistake
Within hours of the 4chan post having been shown on Google, it was algorithmically replaced by results that were more relevant to the story. Google acknowledged their mistake in allowing for content in the “In the News” feed to be, in part, derived from the newness of the content (Sullivan, 2014). Google was very irresponsible for allowing such content to surface on their website, knowing that it was not confirmed by authorities and that it came straight from 4chan. They are one of the most powerful information gatekeepers in the world, however, they fail to take accountability for the role they play in damaging the quality of information that they present to the public. They have continually been accused of allowing the spread of propaganda and the promotion of fake news and low-quality content on their websites in order to reach larger audiences (Levin, 2017). Rather than take ownership and accountability for their actions, Google’s response was to blame it on their algorithm and promise that the appropriate moves were being made to ensure that the incident would not occur again. They not only displayed fake news regarding the Las Vegas shooting without flagging 4chan as a questionable source, they also increased the visibility of the inaccurate posts through curated pages (Chaykowski, 2017).

Through social media, people are helping to inform the people in their social networks of news stories. But they are also able free to express their opinions and insight in these forums, regardless of their expertise or education on the topic. This is a much larger scale of communication than the traditional word of mouth (Napoli, p. 755). One of the major issues with getting news from social media is that the users are not always looking at the most credible or trustworthy websites because of their lack of knowledge regarding source filtering and moderation. Consequently, these individuals arrive at websites that are of low-quality, reporting stories without any factual basis or witness testimony.

The Need for Moderation
It is surprising that 4chan was never blocked or blacklisted as an unreliable source by Google, considering their history and user base. Google has to understand that their algorithm lacks the ability to tell right from wrong and that at this point in time, human moderation is the only solution. Their past problems regarding the spread of fake news can no longer be shrugged off, their algorithms have showed that they are incapable of dealing with breaking news events and thus, it is in their best interest to implement humans into their decision-making process.

Social media does not compare to journalism nor does it try to. But for websites like Google to group news with social media is unjust and irresponsible. Journalists take their time to construct the stories have the proper education and knowledge that is required to do so. They know how to develop and present a story from getting witness accounts to providing essential data to supplement their points.

Google was responsible for displaying false reports on the tragedy in Las Vegas, underlying their failure to manage information properly. Social media is great for interacting with friends and providing opinions on stories and events, but it should stay at just that. Websites like Reddit, Facebook, and 4chan have no place in the realm of news dissemination because of the lack of control and moderation they have over the content posted.

After acknowledging their involvement in spreading fake news, Google announced that they were going to try moderating the circulation of fake news by allowing users to report misleading content to improve the algorithmic results (Hern, 2017). They also said that they would refine their search engine to provide more trustworthy pages and less low-quality content in response to the spread of fake news. Google continues to rely heavily on algorithms to provide news to their readers, but with the growing amount of digital news, it would be in their best interest to implement human moderators into the filtering and dissemination of the news content.

References
Chaykowski, K. (2017, October 2). Facebook And Google Still Have A ‘Fake News’ Problem, Las Vegas Shooting Reveals. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2017/10/02/facebook-and-google-still-have-a-fake-news-problem-las-vegas-shooting-reveals/#eed157d7138f

Hern, A. (2017, April 25). Google acts against fake news on search engine. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/25/google-launches-major-offensive-against-fake-news

Levin, S. (2017, October 2). Facebook and Google promote politicized fake news about Las Vegas shooter. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/02/las-vegas-shooting-facebook-google-fake-news-shooter

Madrigal, A. C. (2017, October 2). Google and Facebook Failed Us. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/google-and-facebook-have-failed-us/541794/

Ohlheiser, A. (2017, October 2). How far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/10/02/how-far-right-trolls-named-the-wrong-man-as-the-las-vegas-shooter/?utm_term=.98ce6181bc5f

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 5). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/pi_17-08-23_socialmediaupdate_0-02/

Sullivan, D. (2014, October 6). Google’s “In the News” Box Now Lists More Than Traditional News Sites. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/googles-news-listings-beyond-traditional-205213

What News Isn’t Fake Anyways?

I remember the night of the 2016 US Presidential Election like it was just yesterday. I could not believe my eyes while watching the results live on my laptop during the lecture. And just like many other people, I thought that Trump’s victory was one […]

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top: diy | jeans: frank + oak | mules: oak + fort
location: vancouver

Essay #1

Fake news is blooming rapidly like flowers in Spring. Many people head towards social media outlets for news, and this changes our way of thinking. First of all, fake news is just another word for misinformation. This misinformation is circulating online and in the media, according to Marwick and Lewis. Moreover, it can be defined as made up news that pretend to look like it is credible reports.

There are many forms of fake news. Some could be news reports that pop up on the sidebar of a website, or even just click bait videos on Instagram. I do think that many fake news occur because the writers behind them wants to be noticed. They want to be the first ones to come up with something creative and to be the first to write about things that haven’t happened yet. This results to a lot of manipulated information and it changes our way of thinking. Moreover, as Neil Postman have mentioned in one of his discussions, he talked about how people who appear on television would be asked questions. Instead of having them think about it, the audience has a sense of urge to expect a response right away. I feel like this is a base ground for fake news because there is a demand of having quick information thrown at us. When I compare this with my peers, I’ve noticed that many of the news they receive are fake. They don’t realize it until it’s pointed out at them. But before they know it’s fake, the news is often spread quickly. In my experience, high school was a place where people have a sense of pride when they discover something that they read about or heard about, and they’re the first people to know about it. They have a feeling where they want to gain something from it or be given credit. Therefore, word travels quickly and sooner or later fake news is blooming rapidly.

An example of fake news in media would be political campaigns. But more specifically, ads. From previous elections, I’ve watched many campaign ads of the person running. I’ve noticed that many of these ads are not necessarily talking about how great they are but how bad their rival is. They point out the nasty things of their opponent to boast their own way up, to make the audience think that they’re better. I’ve asked many people that were close to me why they decided to vote for who they decided on. The majority of the responses I’ve gotten was because they watched one particular ad or they’ve seen more banners of that one candidate on the streets. Many of them don’t understand or haven’t dug deeper to understand that these news they’re receiving are manipulated information in order to fit into a world view. Another example would be clickbait. Many of these appear on social media platforms. Especially in videos because they have a thumbnail to show the viewer before they decide to click on it. Many of these thumbnails are a representation of what the viewer thinks the video is about but in reality, it’s the opposite. Therefore, these videos gain massive increases of views.

As adolescents, we tend to become blanketed in the digital world. Because of rising production of technologies and apps, we have a tendency of not wanting to fall behind or be left out. We’re constantly updating ourselves with news, videos, memes, and top rated media. Therefore, most of our time is on our cellular devices and that’s where we also receive our news. On my newsfeed, there are multiple articles and links to what seems to be legit news. Sources seem correct and it has been popping up many times because people share them on Facebook without knowing if it’s fake or not. The more they feed into it, the flower blooms even more. People would think that if it’s popular it’s probably true.
There was an article by Regina Marchi about a study done on 61 racially different high school students. These students were asked about their attitude towards the news and where they have gotten their news from. The high schoolers have mentioned that they don’t watch news on television or read newspapers because nothing applies to them, and it’s boring. Many also said that newscasts copy each other and have a lot of the same thing. They would never watch the news on purpose but rather just by accident. Or, they would switch to the news channel during commercial breaks. Besides receiving their news from trusted adults, they use social networking sites and blogs to receive news. As well, pop ups in emails would be a place because they would find a headline that’s interesting and would click into that. They also mentioned that they have friends who are obsessed with social media and some would even check their app multiple times in an hour. Another person have said that blogs are a place to receive news. This student said that if you want to get local news that’s reliable, bloggers would post pictures of certain streets and things. Therefore, you would get personal insights of your neighbours and these are things regular media outlets don’t have.

To avoid fake news, it’s important to check the author, the news outlet, publication date, links, and sources. Moreover, keep in mind and wonder if these publishers are posting  because they want to have more views, or want to gain something from it. If this is the case, most likely it will be untrustworthy.

 

Bibliography

Brennen, B. (2017). Making Sense of Lies, Deceptive Propaganda, and Fake News. Journal of Media Ethics, 32(3), 179-181. doi:10.1080/23736992.2017.1331023

Marchi, R. (2012). With Facebook, Blogs, and Fake News, Teens Reject Journalistic “Objectivity”. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 36(3), 246-262. doi:10.1177/0196859912458700

Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2017). Media manipulation and Disinformation online. Plaats van uitgave onbekend: Data and Society Research Institute.

Paul, P. V. (2017). Fake News, Alternative Facts, Post-Truths, Misinformation, Misinterpretation—and Other Challenges Associated With Knowledge Generation. American Annals of the Deaf, 162(1), 3-7. doi:10.1353/aad.2017.0010

 

 

 

 

 

PROCESS POST

As I read over a review my peer had on my blog, I’ve decided to change my About page. I liked how she gave me insight on how my About page was talking about who I am instead of what my blog is about. This really made me think about how that affected my audience because I haven’t given them a clear thought of what they would expect on my blog. Therefore, I started fresh and wrote on what my blog was about. I’m glad I’ve gotten helpful criticism from my peer and hope to change more of my blog to the critics she has given me.

PROCESS POST

The audience I’ve been imaging so far would be people who have an interest in music. The majority of my posts are either playlists or a category called “Song of the Day.” Since I’ve imagined to have people with an interest in music, this made my design decisions to be clean and neat. I wanted my blog to be black and white because the cover artworks for the songs have vibrant colours. If my blog was all colourful, I didn’t want the colours of the art to counteract . Furthermore, I chose to put an over-line on my headings because it looked more modern and quite fun. Just like how music is quirky and fun.

Essay 1 (Oct 17)

Social media has not always been what it is today. Facebook, for example, was first launched in February, 2004 to university students in eastern parts of the United States. By the end of 2006, Facebook has become available to anyone with a registered email address. Ten years later, Facebook is no longer just a social media site that connects people. It has become a way for people to advertise, make money, gain attention, and disburse information and also receive information. With a large amount of people on social media around the world, it is easy for everyone to receive the same information in a short amount of time. Although the speed of which information spreads can be seen as an advantage, there are, however, some drawbacks of having information spreading quickly. According to a survey done by Facebook, there are over one billion daily users on Facebook in 2017 and is growing every year (Facebook, 2017).

With a large network, some people see this as an opportunity and take advantage to make personal gain. This creates changes for people who create genuine content, spread noteworthy news, and collect credible information on the internet in today’s time.

When someone creates content to be put online, they always have some sort of intention to make something public. Some may have the intention to make money through advertisements. This is most seen with an article that has headlines similar to “You Won’t Guess What Happens Next” or “Seven Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You To Know”. The creator’s intention is to attract curious viewers to click on the link so that they will be exposed to advertisements. Because of click baits and fake news circulating the internet, viewers are now more reluctant to click on links and advertisements as they see advertisements are not trustworthy for a variety of reasons as outlined by a survey done by the Advertising Standards of Canada.

Because there is significant distrust for digital content, creators would find themselves in a more difficult position to build a good online reputation. Eric Sachs, however, provided his insights about building an online reputation in the Entrepreneur Magazine with his article “How to Build Your Online Reputation” (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290927). He first talks about the effectiveness of using blog posts to publish and provide readers with “tangible, actionable solutions to relevant issues”. Sachs then goes onto talking about social media and that it is important to engage with your audience, as it will “inject some humanity into your social media accounts. Sachs finally goes into talking about public perception and managing online reputation. He says that a strategy is to pursue reviews from people, because “if you can convince 10 people who had fantastic experiences to leave reviews, your overall online reputation won’t take such a massive hit after a negative review”. It is obvious that in the twenty-first century, distrust in digital content has become an issue to creators, however, there are ways to overcome distrust and create a strong online reputation.

Fake news also has the ability shift people’s perspective on a particular subject. Such is the case during the 2016 United States presidential election, where social media and the dissemination of fake news had a major impact. With the low cost of creating a social media account, it gives more encouragement to create malicious user accounts that can be used to spread fake news. According to a survey done by Morning Consult, 78% of respondents use Facebook as a source for news (Morning Consult, 2017).

This makes Facebook a very sought-after market to spread any information whether it is true or false. In Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow’s journal article “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election”, it was estimated that among the 248 million American adults, there was “38 million shares of fake news…[which] translates into 760 million page visits, or about 3 visits per US adult” (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). However, it is important to know that social media follows like-minded people, and thus, one will see content on their newsfeed that they favour. For example, for a committed Republican supporter of the election, he or she would see more content that is pro-Republican. Another similar concept is called selective perception, where a person would believe content that aligns with what they believe and ignores all opposing viewpoints. Selective perception has become a way of how fake news is spread around. When one person believes in a fake article because it aligns with their own beliefs, they are more than likely to share it with others, thus spreading fake news. It is true that social media has, in some ways, taken over our minds by feeding us what we want to see, but it is by human nature that we react a certain way towards certain news compared to others.

With the emergence of fake news in our internet, looking for decent information has also become more difficult. Often times, when people go look for information, they only look at the credibility to determine if the information is good. However, creators of fake news have found ways to make their articles look more accurate than what they actually are. Some news articles make themselves look more professional by quoting an expert or referencing to a past study, and people would automatically select that article without thinking twice. However, it is important to assess many more issues when determining whether a piece of information is good. Relevance is one thing to assess as sometimes background information may not be in a similar context as the news given. Recency is also important to assess because results from a survey can change over a lengthy period of time. Thus, if a news article, for example, refers to a survey that was done ten years ago, it would be a good idea to question the accuracy of the news article. Ensuring that the information collected is good information can be the difference maker in one’s own reputation.

In conclusion, social media has completely changed the way how news and digital content is created, disseminated, and collected. The uprising of fake news has blurred the lines between what is real and what is fake. Social media has altered the way for people to fully verify if the information is good. It has hidden information from people by personalizing the content to the specific recipient. And finally, fake news social media has required creators to put in more effort in order to build a strong, positive online reputation.

References

Advertising Standards Canada. (n.d.). Leading reasons why consumers perceive online advertising as not trustworthy in Canada as of January 2015. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/472391/canada-reasons-for-not-trusting-online-advertising/.

Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211-236. doi:10.3386/w23089

Facebook. (n.d.). Number of daily active Facebook users worldwide as of 2nd quarter 2017 (in millions). In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/346167/facebook-global-dau/.

Morning Consult. (n.d.). Frequency of using selected online news sources in the United States as of July 2017. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/706177/online-news-sources-frequency/.

Peer Review #2 Changes

I really appreciated Rory’s advice as it helped me evaluate what could be improved design wise.  One thing I changed was the size of the font.  I changed this because it was commented on during the in class review as well as Rory’s review.  I changed it from size 12 to 16, and it is so much readable now.

Another thing I tweaked was my header.  I tweaked this right after the design lecture, so it was not included in Rory’s review but I thought I would mention it anyway.  The guest speaker said that the fact that ‘Abad Photographer’ was smaller made it hard to see, so I changed it.  I also made it a bolder font.

The last thing I changed was the RSS Feed issue.  Rory mentioned that clicking the feed button just led to a page of code, so I fixed.  It now leads to a page of all my posts.

Overall, I really appreciate the constructive criticism Rory gave me.  It’s great to see what others think of your blog because it gives you an insight as to what your audience thinks about your design elements.

Giving Back

The butterfly effect states that “small causes have large effects”. Some of vaguely remember our childhood, but we know that many factors went into it to shape us the way we are.

For the past few years, I have been going back to visit teachers, that have taught me, to catch up and to give insight to their current classes. But the teacher I visited the most over the years has been my grade 1 teacher.

I started visiting my grade 1 teacher, along with my friend who I also met in grade 1, late into my grade 12 year of high school. Although memories of my own grade 1 year have mostly faded, I still remember my teacher and she still remembers me, among the hundreds of kids she has taught over the years. I also happen to share the same birthday as her.

Every time I go back to visit, it is always a surprise to her that we come back as we do not tell her ahead of time that we will be visiting. We would always play with the toys alongside with the kids and learn more about what they like to do and their passions. We help them through learning to write numbers and letters as well as reading words.

Visiting her class over the years has taught me the learning development that a child goes through early into their education, as well as the patience that is needed to work with kids.

However, every time I visit my teacher, she tells me that as a teacher of young children, there is difficulty in finding out about whether you have done your job correctly as a teacher. As you are only in their lives for a short amount of time, it is hard to see the long-term outcomes. Even though she always mentions that our visits to her class and helping children learn is a huge impact for the children, I finally understood what she meant when I visited her recently.

On October 2nd, 2017, my friend and I visited her class and did our usual activities we did in the past. At the end of the day, when we brought the children outside to be picked up by their parents, a small girl comes up to us and hugs both my friend and I. Clearly this is someone who remembers us. We started talking to her and she told us that she is now in grade 4. After doing the math, I was only in grade 12 when she was in grade 1. Furthermore, I only visited her class once in my entire grade 12 year, so it was even more amazing how she still remembers us after a few years have passed.

This experience will always serve as a reminder that when we decide to spend our time to give to others, especially those who really value spending quality time with others, that’s how you make others feel truly special. Whether itʼs spending uninterrupted time talking with someone else or doing activities together, deeper connections can be made with others through sharing time.

Essay 1: The Information Ratrace

The Information Ratrace

The urgency of obtaining and publishing news articles has led to the degeneration of the verisimilitude of information. This is not only the fault of news outlets, but of the readers who consume said media as well. Did you, the reader, ever consider to question whether the vocabulary used in the first sentence of this paragraph was properly used, or mean what you had perceived it to mean? For every vocabulary word that one does not know in a given essay, how often does the reader investigate the meaning and context of the word used to ensure accuracy? The lack of verification behind information we receive and from news outlets who publish news stories often leads to problems with misconstrued constructions of what we believe to be the truth.

The PEW Research Center conducted a survey on how Americans receive news from social media sites. “As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media.” (Gottfried, J., & Shearer, E., 2017). Social media doesn’t take into account the contents of what users post, meaning news of any form can be distributed without discretion. Due to the nature of social media’s vast accessibility, it only further perpetrates the issues by allowing articles (whether accurate or not) to spread without verification. Should news articles contain misinformation, it only serves to misinform and spread confusion among the public. This raises the issue of how many people are questioning the accuracy of the news they are consuming. Part of the reason why fake news is so rampant is because many viewers are eager to believe the first thing they receive due to the convenience of locating news on Google or social media. Social media has been so saturated with news stories that it has become difficult to pick apart relevant information from fake news.

Take the recent Las Vegas shooting for example. On October 1st, 2017, a gunman open fired upon a crowd of people attending a concert. “Links to the 4chan website falsely identified the shooter as Geary Danley, calling him a leftist and Democratic supporter. The misinformation gained traction after Internet sleuths scoured social media to identify the gunman faster than police, and the erroneous report appeared at the top of Google results for searches on Danley.” (Guynn, J., 2017). Despite the lack of information known shortly after the shooting, rumors and misinformation had already begun to spread on the 4chan website, misidentifying the gunman for another individual. For an accusation of that caliber, it can cause undue defamation of an innocent individual, not to mention the disrespect done to the falsely accused to have been associated with the tragic event. The blame not only lies on the users who participated in the misinformation hoax, but on Google as well for listing Danley’s name on top of the search engine instead of the criminal Stephen Paddock’s name. Due to there being no accurate news related to the gunman’s identity, Google’s algorithms are deceived into putting the first result that occurs in their search for related news.

The reason why the blame also falls upon news media outlets is due to the various pressure factors. According to The Guardian, there are “numerous accounts from journalists about the pressures in UK newsrooms that lead to dodgy stories being reported uncritically.” For a news media outlet, having an influx of viewers come to their source as a first means information means more revenue for the media outlet. With profits in mind, news media outlets are likely to resort to obtaining information as quickly as possible in order to draw in readers. As a result, there are many cases in which fake news was reported due to insufficient background checks or a general disregard entirely. News media outlets have recognized methods of drawing viewers in through a particular method known as “click-baiting”; a method in which the title of an article is written in an enticing manner, but does not convey any information about the topic. The issue with this strategy is that the contents of the article are usually very lackluster and uninformative. With the competitive nature of the journalism industry, some companies choose to take any method possible to generate income to eke a profit. However, at the cost of reputation and faith in the news outlet, the resulting fallout of disappointed users may hurt revenue more than the advantage of reporting as soon as possible or drawing in as many users as possible.

As a media content creator myself, it is in my best interest to verify the information I receive, as relevant news can alter my opinions and responses to related situations. This is especially important when it pertains to current and/or sensitive topics. When faced with emerging news, it is prudent to wait for situations to become updated as authorities and experts draw closer to understanding the situation. Double checking information with trusted sources who have garnered trust among its viewer base can help reduce issues with fake news, and brings us closer to the truth.

 

Sources:

Dvorkin, J. (2016, April 26th). Why click-bait will be the death of journalism. PBS. Retrieved October 12th, 2017 from “http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/what-you-dont-know-about-click-bait-journalism-could-kill-you/”

Gottfried, J., & Shearer, E. (2017, September 7th). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. PEW Research Center. Retrieved October 10th, 2017 from “http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/”

Guynn, J. (2017, October 2nd, 2017). Google search spread wrong info from 4chan on Las Vegas shooting suspect. USA Today. Retrieved October 10th, 2017 from “https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/10/02/las-vegas-shooting-google-spread-stories-wrong-suspect-4-chan/724109001/”

Rawlinson, K. (2016, April 17th, 2017). How newsroom pressure is letting fake stories on the web. The Guardian. Retrieved October 11th, 2017 from “https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/apr/17/fake-news-stories-clicks-fact-checking”

Peer Review 2 – Response

Thank you to Debbie for writing a very helpful and clear review of my website so far, I will definitely take all of her points into consideration. To make my process post easy to follow along with Dickwitz’s peer review, I have made my headings the same as hers. This way, each response that I have can be automatically traced to her suggestions, recommendations, and overall critique.

At First look
I am happy that she liked the front page of the blog, although I think she may have been done some of the review while I was in the editing process throughout the week. In case you did not know, I will fill you in. Over the past week, I have been trying to elevate the look and feel of my website so I tested out new themes to see if any were better fitted to my blog. Short answer: no. I went through several (at least 3) different themes, customized them, and came to the conclusion that TwentySeventeen, although the default theme, best represents The Life of Pip. I say this because it has the video header, it has room on the side for my custom widgets, it has room for my featured images, and it works best with the typography. I also realized while going through the themes that I am only able to download the free ones because I do not have pro and I don’t even know if I would pay for it. I did still end up changing my blog, even though I reverted back to my original theme. I made sure that the background was of dog art, while the video is still the first element of the website that shows up.

Fonts
I can understand what Debbie is saying about the typography not meshing well with the article content, so I may end up changing the font from Life Savers to Raleway. I liked the font because it was fun to read, but from her point of view, I can understand that maybe fun isn’t always the number one priority. I am thankful for her insight because although I have been sending my blog to my friends and family, they have not said anything about the font. Keep in mind that they could possibly be ignoring the messages.

Images
Coding is probably my biggest issue so I have to figure out a way to, like she said, move the images to the left of the article to tidy up space. I am happy however, that Debbie liked my featured images because I worked really hard to make those.

I decided to start editing each featured image on Photoshop to add consistency to my content. What I am now doing is adding the desired image to a 1200×800 pixel .PSD file I have saved which I use as a template. It has the frame and bottom left paw print on it and all I do is add the image, resize it, and change the frame color. In doing so, I like that I have more consistency and flow amongst my content and that there’s some hint of outside color that I don’t usually use. It was hard when I first started using it because this was when I was acting very bipolar with the theme customizations and I had changed the canvas size of the .PSD file, which resulted in me having to reshape the frame and the paw print. I had to do this at least 3 times, which took at least an hour in total. I finally came back to my original theme and stuck to the 1200×800 pixel canvas size, which works really well for the theme.

Composition
I absolutely get what Debbie was saying about the Posts or Categories title coming up at the top of the pages, I am heavily annoyed by this. I have to figure out how to remove these because they’re annoying to me.

I liked her point about capitalizing PIP in the titles because she said it wasn’t so clear, and coming from someone in the class, if she is unclear, imagine the audience outside of the class. I am going to try to fix the galleries on my blog because at the moment, I am confused as to whether I want a gallery for the PIPtures or just posts in which I add media. But I do like her suggestion about the 6×6 gallery instead of the 4×3 because of how much space it would take up, leaving little empty.

My Experience So Far
For me, the hardest part I am having with this whole course is the design of the blog because I find myself doubting everything I do each class. Its very hard having to edit the design and then suddenly hate it and revert back, I also hate that I’m somewhat limited in what I can do because I am not a pro user (Thanks WordPress). Content comes easier to me because I can easily express my feeling through words. If I ever have a thought, I quickly type it into my notes app on my phone or computer, which I am currently typing this post into at the moment.

Thanks to Debbie, I have a better insight of what my blog looks like to the audience. I really appreciate her feedback because much of it was news to me and she made it really clear what I could gain from making those changes. And thanks for those funny moments in the review when you talk about the adorableness of my dog, DITTO DEBBIE DICKWITZ.

Assignment Peer Review #2


So So So SORRY, My Peer!!
Whatsapp users should be familiar with this ‘man bowing’ emoji. Yes, this is me right now. Terribly sorry to my peer who has been desperately waiting for my review! (without which she cannot start writing her new process post…)

Before going into the peer review, I must first apologize to my peer, Kimberly Wong who unfortunately got paired up with an irresponsible peer, for keeping her waiting. I hope this review can really help her fine-tune some elements of her blog to make it even better. And, of course, many thanks to Kimberly’s in-depth review on my blog which contains suggestions on each tab as well as many details.

Entry to Kimberly’s Blog: First Impression

Once I entered Kimberly’s blog, the header image was so eye-catching that for a second I thought ‘Activity Fuels Activity’ printed right at the centre of the image was the blog name. The top menu really matches with the simplicity of the theme, categorizing blog content into simply ‘personal posts’ and ‘school posts’. In Kimberly’s review of my blog, she mentioned the little mess of my top menu which can be better managed by more thoughtful categorization.

 

What I see when I enter Kimberly’s blog. I realize the composition of the header image is similar as mine, with a huge blue sky on top, occupying half of the screen. 

Feature Image for Each Post

I really like this idea of having a feature image for each post. The post’s feature image can visualize and summarize the post content so that readers feel more comfortable looking for what they want to read  in a sea of posts. For instance, Kimberly uses a close-up of a dog for her first peer review which immediately tells readers she’s reviewing a blog about dogs. Here I must point out that one of the feature photos is especially outstanding in terms of photographic aesthetics but I’m not sure if it’s taken by Kimberly herself (I’m assuming it was, given that there’s no credits).

I have a little suggestion though regarding images within her posts. I realize that only the feature photo is in full size but all other subsequent photos are thumbnails. I tried clicking on those photos, like photos she took during a trip to Squamish, and noticed those are actually in high definition!

I’d love to see the wonderful view of Squamish in full size and high definition, without needing to click on it!

Text Layout

I have some suggestions regarding the text layout throughout her blog:

  • Content Structure

From the above screen capture of one of Kimberly’s blog posts, it looks a little bit weird that the text in such a small font goes all the way to the edge of the screen. A larger font plus paragraphing would make it look nicer. More importantly, it’d be a lot more reader-friendly especially for those who view the blog with a 16:9 screen. Also, adding subheadings to long posts is a good idea to structure the text layout.

This is a good reference for a well-structured text layout. (Source: Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015.)  
  • Play With Typography!

There are a lot more Kimberly can do in term of typography to make the text look alive and reflect her emotions! It doesn’t have to be fancy but working with the bold, italic, underline, and many other simple typographic elements like selecting font family and size, can help effectively communicate with the target audience. The bulid-in text writer only allows the author to simply type in chunks of words without any typographic functions, but there are numerous plugins that are free for users to try. 

Overall, Kimberly has a wonderful blog sharing her hobbies and daily activities with lots of nice photos as well as texts that are written casually like conversations between friends. I’m just wondering if it’d be a good idea to have social media links so that visitors can get to know more about her as well as share her posts on other platforms. Keep up the good work!

Self Care Sunday #2 – Strip Those Pores

Using a pore strip is ann incredibly quick and easy way to pamper yourself this Sunday. I like to have a hot shower (Sunday is normally hair washing day too, so you know it’s a long hot shower) and then apply a pore strip as soon as I get out. I mean I don’t even dry my face off, just, BAM, slap that pore strip on there. I like to apply them after a hot shower because, well a) my pores are open from the copious amounts of steam that can only come with having a shower that is arguably hotter than the surface of the sun, and b) it saves on time. I can let the strip dry on my face while I dry the rest of me. Its not like I have to take any extra time to pamper myself, so this is a good one if you’re short on time.

I use the BIORÉ pore strips 

Now you may be asking yourself, “JordanAnne, why are pore strips self care?” Well, I use pore strips as part of my self care routine because I like the little things in life. In other words, I find looking at all the gunk that comes out of nose super satisfying, well and I throughly enjoy having a smooth nose. Self care doesn’t always have to be something that takes hours to do, it doesn’t even have to be something that you take specific time to do, self care is just doing something for yourself. It is incredibly important to have these quick self care things in your arsenal, because sometimes you need a pick me up, but you don’t necessarily have a ton of time.

What are you doing this Sunday to take care of yourself? Whatever you end up doing, post it on Instagram with #selfcaresunday and make sure you tag me @jordananne76 so I can see it! maybe you’ll even be featured on my #selfcaresunday page!

The post Self Care Sunday #2 – Strip Those Pores appeared first on Makeup Your Mind.

the rise of fake influencers

Among the group of the highest-earning people in the world is those that hold a job title that did not exist up until a few years ago: an influencer. The name stems from the idea that they have the ability to influence their social media followings in an authentic, effective way. Thus a serious industry was born for advertising via these influencers. Big or small, influencers can command quite a large sum relative to their audience size.

In 2017, an estimated “$1 billion was spent on Instagram influencers alone” (Asano, 2017),  which is why it is no surprise that more and more people want to find their way into this industry. Genuine, good quality content isn’t enough to warrant being paid for your Instagram content though. They need to be paired with high numbers in your following and engagement. It’s easier than you think to produce the above though. More and more people want to take advantage of the growing demand for influencers and so, ethically “grey-area” practices are now commonly employed in order to compete in the market to the point that I would argue that some of these influencers are fake/fraudulent. To what extent depends on the extent these methods were used.

Buying
Out of all the methods, purchasing followers probably doesn’t just fall under the ethical grey-area, but blatantly wrong. Accounts using this method to “grow” are essentially fake influencers populating their following count with fake followers. Buying followers and engagement is not necessarily costly either (it can actually be rather cheap) and is an “investment” that pays for itself rather quickly if you can manage “to secure paid brand deals” (Asano, 2017) with these fake numbers. To prove this, influencer marketing agency, Mediakix, executed an experiment where they created two fake accounts that they grew using only bought followers, comments and likes. By the end of their experiment, they secured two paid brand deals for each of their accounts. Ethical? No. Easy? Unfortunately, yes.

Automation
Popular automation service, Instagress and Massplanner may have recently been shutdown at the request of Instagram, but services like it do still exist. The service is this: for a fee, a bot will go around Instagram on your behalf to comment and like (or even follow) based on a list of hashtags you provide. All this is done to “take the hard work out of attracting followers on Instagram” (Chafkin, 2016). Once again, this service was not very expensive, averaging at around only $10 per month. Bloomberg writer, Max Chafkin, conducted an experiment that used this method on his Instagram account. These kind of services can be seen as sending spam, which is against Instagram’s Terms of Service, hence why Instagress and Massplanner were shutdown. Nevertheless, automation was and still is a very popular means influencers may use.

Loop Giveaways
Traditionally, Instagram giveaways were hosted by a singular influencer and brand. To enter the contest, one would have to follow both the influencer and the brand and complete some steps like tagging a friend in the comments. The prize in these contests would be modest, and the purpose was usually for an influencer to indirectly give back to their followers. Loop giveways is this on steroids. Instead of following just two accounts, it is a chain of influencer accounts (often ranging from 20-40) where you have to follow each person in the chain until you arrive back to the post you started at. The result? Thousands of people entering a contest (meaning that an influencer in the loop could gain thousands of “real” followers overnight, which you can clearly see by looking at an account’s SocialBlade analytics) of which their odds of winning are next to none. On top of that, normally the people that enter these contests have no interest in the content of the 30 something accounts they have just followed, and thus the influencers don’t really influence these people in any way. I myself have received hundreds of emails inviting me to join a loop, and from this I can tell you that there is a hefty buy in price to participate in a loop, ranging from $300-700. Loop giveways only recently gained popularity and though are widely accepted, is a morally questionable method. The organizers have certainly taken advantage of the demand influencer’s have to grow their accounts quickly.

Pods
Nicknamed the “Instagram Mafia”(Melotti, 2017), engagement pods were created by influencers in an attempt to help one another beat the algorithm. A pod typically includes 15 people (the maximum amount of people that can be in a group Instagram direct message), and whenever someone posts a new picture they send it to the group message, and everyone in the group comments and likes the photo. This was meant to help support one another with their tanking engagement thanks to the new Instagram algorithm that doesn’t show chronologically. It’s also a means to inflate engagement, and depending on how many pods someone is, can make an influencer look like there is a lot of people engaged in their content when in actuality, all the engagement stems from these secret pods.

Some people took it to a whole other extreme, where they took these groups to Telegram or Whatsapp where hundreds of people can be in a single pod. To be involved in these groups, “you have to post at the same time as everyone else” (Melotti, 2017). At the specified time, the hundreds of people in these groups will post their photo and then proceed to engage on the other posts. The hope is to boost your engagement enough within the first half hour of posting that it would go on the Instagram Explore page, where it would be seen by thousands upon thousands of people, leading to thousands of likes.

It’s not just the numbers that people are trying to cheat. There are even ways to fake authentic, quality content.

Stock Photos
Along with their purchase of followers and engagement, Mediakix’ experiment included setting up one of the accounts using all free stock photos. This is easy to pull off for accounts that are travel based where the influencer may not even need to appear in their photos. For Mediakix, they chose to personalize the account by having their fake influencer appear in the photos “by using stock photos of blonde girls that showed only the back of their heads” (Mediakix, 2017). Accounts that use this method don’t even have to go through the work of going out to take and edit their photos which has both a time and money cost. Rather, they simply source their content for free online. The content can be of high quality, as stock images are normally taken by photographers, but it is not authentic or genuine.

Excessive Editing
Amelia Liana, who has 477K followers on Instagram, was caught earlier this year “doctoring images on her Instagram feed by superimposing her silhouette on sceneries that don’t accurately depict the cities she’s traveled to” (Wong, 2017). The images created were indeed beautiful, but the large issue raised here was that she continues to deny the excessive use of editing. It’s no secret that influencers display a highlight reel on their accounts, and that photos are normally all edited, “but denying it isn’t ethical” (Rodriguez, 2017).

Influencers of all sizes are getting paid. It is hard to vet accounts, and so the quick rise of fake and fraudulent influencers, whether partially or fully, is difficult to combat. Some would consider these methods as strategies, but I would argue, isn’t it actually ad fraud?

 

References

Wong, V. (2017, July 19). This Instagram Star Faked Her Travel Photos, But Why Are People So Mad? Retrieved from http://www.refinery29.com/2017/07/164148/amelia-liana-photoshop-pictures-response

Asano, E. (2017, August 11). This Influencer Marketing Shop Created Fake Accounts to Prove That the Industry Is Full of Ad Fraud. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/digital/this-influencer-marketing-shop-created-fake-accounts-to-prove-that-the-industry-is-full-of-ad-fraud/

Chafkin, M. (2016, November 30). Confessions of an Instagram Influencer. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-11-30/confessions-of-an-instagram-influencer

Hosie, R. (2017, June 06). Are you following a fake Instagram star? Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fake-instagram-star-following-social-media-spam-followers-influencer-a7751696.html

How To Be An Instagram Influencer For $300: A 2-Month Study. (2017, August 08). Retrieved from http://mediakix.com/2017/08/fake-instagram-influencers-followers-bots-study/#gs.Bs_s6eE

Melotti, S. (2017, June 02). Instagram Created a Monster: A No B.S. Guide to What’s Really Going On. Retrieved from https://petapixel.com/2017/06/01/instagram-created-monster-no-b-s-guide-whats-really-going/

O’Connor, C. (2017, April 10). Earning Power: Here’s How Much Top Influencers Can Make On Instagram And YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2017/04/10/earning-power-heres-how-much-top-influencers-can-make-on-instagram-and-youtube/#656779bc24db

Image from @amelialiana

Who Can We Trust in the Age of ‘Fake News’?

In the new age of social media and content production, many people are finding themselves in a black hole of information that may or may not be true. Often, the things we read online have been fabricated, been blown out of proportion, or is just clickbait. Many readers of online news consume this digital information passively and very rarely engage with the text to research more about the topic.

With technology rapidly growing every day and the fast pace of developed economies, immediacy is at the forefront of consumer culture. Consumers are conditioned to expect information presented to them at face value rather than taking the time to click through to more sites to learn more about a topic. Technology is allowing people to create and produce more creative content that hides it’s credibility through seemingly (but not) verified sources that come across as believable and real to the untrained eye. The immediacy of media is incriminating some news sources and putting their reputations at risk. People are now finding themselves unable to trust the news and are looking for multiple sources for the truth.

When we think of “Fake News” we think of Donald Trump, he is at the centre of this fake news epidemic. Let’s first take a look at the ongoing issue Donald Trump has with “Fake News” or NBC and CNN, tweeting about how dishonest these new sources are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

True that these news sources aren’t the most reputable but it’s ironic that the news source he does trust (Fox News) is even less reputable than NBC and CNN.

According to this study done by Michael W. Kearney on which news sources are and are not trusted (with Trump ranking as the fifth least trusted source) NBC and CNN rank higher as more trusted than Fox News.

But with over 40.5 million followers on Twitter, it is no surprise that some people will take this advice seriously because he is at a position of power, especially through the internet where he has the autonomy to Tweet at random his honest opinions.

Buzzfeed is listed as the second least trustworthy news source, but until recently I had never considered it as a news source at all because of its predominant entertainment value. Buzzfeed, for me was a website that consisted of personality quizzes, cat pictures and gifs representing the struggles of the female body, but this is beside the point. Buzzfeed caters to a passive viewership, it’s content is far from “news”, but it is a news source, nonetheless, that “poses a fresh challenge for traditional media companies as they battle for web users’ time and attention” (Halliday, 2013).

Obviously social media has changed how we communicate. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and others have allowed for unmediated publishing. It has generated a viewership and audience responsiveness that is immediate, thus creating a culture where information spreads like a wildfire. Social media has given people the experience and opportunity to voice their opinions or communicate with others while separating themselves from the real world in what John Suler dubs “dissociative anonymity“. This has made it easy for people to separate their actions from real life by publishing false content and passing it off as truth. With this immediacy people are conditioned to expect in the digital age of social media, these false news stories are mostly not fact checked and are shared worldwide before people have the chance to question it’s legitimacy.

New sources tend to follow this trend of immediacy as events and situations are being broadcasted in real time across the globe. People assume the things they read from these news sources are factual because of the way the news story is presented, usually with statistics, quotes, and sources (sometimes false or taken out of context) and don’t bother to ask further questions.

I think this hoax interview with ‘Jude Finisterra’ from The Yes Men impersonating a Dow Chemical Spokesperson on BBC World promising compensation for the victims of the Bhopal chemical disaster in India 20 years later is a great example of how reputable news sources can have their faults and the how immediacy of the media can be taken advantage of.

After the truth was revealed that ‘Finisterra’ who had appeared on BBC was a hoaxer and was part of the Yes Men’s stunt as part of a contemporary art agenda to “impart a significant political message through the media” (Kim, 2014), the BBC had quickly pulled the video and issued statements claiming they were victims of this elaborate hoax and that “its procedures regarding the trustworthiness of information obtained from websites would be reviewed” (Wells and Ramesh, 2004). Although we can argue it was incredibly problematic to present this piece of art in the context of reality, this incident forces consumers of news media to take a step back and question the legitimacy of the source of their information.

Many hoaxes (some not nearly as elaborate as this) have fooled a wider audience and have generated talk surrounding the situation. This reminds me of Wikipedia and it’s questionable legitimacy in the past, before editors started to crack down on verifiability, where people were allowed to edit pages and create new pages of their own free will, sparking a culture of hoax Wikipedia pages with fake sources.

As someone whose content revolves around the concept of lying and generating fake content, I have to step back and ask myself how this fits into the world of social media and the credibility of news. Am I contributing to the fake news epidemic? In some ways you could argue that yes, I am a creator of fake news and I am teaching my audience to be creators of fake news. But, the way we use this knowledge and information is ultimately up to the users who hold the information. I am merely providing the tools for creating this type of content.

Like the Yes Men, how do we justify how we use this information for the greater public? I think this is a question we all have to ask ourselves as online content creators whose credibility is important to the wider audience. Is this content being published in the context of reality or in our own public spheres online and does it affect the consumer’s lives in real life? I think this is a question of morality that we have to address within ourselves.

 

Sources:

Halliday, Josh. 2013. “11 things you need to know about Buzzfeed” The Guardian, 6 Jan. 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/jan/06/buzzfeed-social-news-open-uk

Kearney, Michael W. 2017. “Trusting News Project Report 2017.” Reynolds Journalism Institute, 25 July. 2017, https://www.rjionline.org/reporthtml.html

Kim, Adela H. 2014. “Yes Men Bhopal Legacy.” The Harvard Crimson, 5 Mar. 2014. http://www.thecrimson.com/column/the-art-of-protest/article/2014/3/5/art-of-protest-the-bhopal-legacy/

Ramesh, Randeep, and Matt Wells. 2004. “BBC reputation hit by Bhopal interview hoax.” The Guardian, 4 Dec. 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2004/dec/04/india.broadcasting

razorfoundation. “Bhopal Disaster – BBC – The Yes Men.” 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiWlvBro9eI

Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Trump, Donald (realDonaldTrump). “I will be interviewed tonight on @FoxNews by @SeanHannity at 9pmE. Enjoy!” 11 Oct 2017. 5:32 pm. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/918227740700102657. Tweet.

Trump, Donald (realDonaldTrump). “People are just now starting to find out how dishonest and disgusting (FakeNews) @NBCNews is. Viewers beware. May be worse than even @CNN!” 12 Oct. 2017. 8:12 pm. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/918630610167529472. Tweet.