Tag Archives: fake news

Process Post (6) Digital Literacy & Trusting Sources

From Peer Review to Plugins

Last week, my blog was peer-reviewed for its design by my fellow classmate, Jade. She suggested I try to make my pages more interactive and dynamic. “She can try plugins for carousels, or someway incorporate some movement between the site visitors and her pages/content.  I think this could really add excitement to what she has already put out.” In light of Jade’s advice and after some of my own personal reflection on the style of my blog at the time, I implemented a couple new changes. I first reformatted my social media icons, placing them into a sidebar along with three of my most recent music playlists in which I displayed as a carousel-like slider. I achieved this look by using the MetaSlider plugin. I am also currently working on a new layout for the photos I feature in my Travel category. I was using the plugin Photo Gallery to post my photos from my trip to Sechelt, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with this plugin’s features and lack of flexibility. The font for my captions was grey and hard to read, and each photo was significantly cropped unless you clicked to expand it. I decided to switch to Elementor, a much more comprehensive and visually pleasing plugin with far fewer limitations than the previous plugin I used.

 

Combatting Fake News & Misinformation

Our lecture this week was focused on confirmation bias and digital literacy, which got me thinking about the kind of information I publish online and will in the future. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that nearly seven in 10 respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. This is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one tiny personal blog in a sea Internet news and opinion sources. But I can do my part to help combat this era of fake news. How? I am not a news source website. I identify as more of an opinion and personal experience source. But by communicating with as little bias as possible, being honest and reliable with any facts I include and linking these facts to credible sources of expertise, I can build up my own credibility and genuinely become a trusted source of information.

 

In Mike Caulfield’s article “Yes Digital Literacy. But Which One?” he stresses “domain knowledge is crucial to literacy”. This goes beyond the C.R.A.P detector we discussed in class. We must consider and understand the environment which our website sources act in, and using our tools and skills, critically analyze the info online that many of us are quick to consume without batting an eye. 

 

Online Community

My process of growing my blog and developing my publishing skills continues to build each week. This week, I thought back to a concept from my CMNS 353 course on Issues in Technology and Society. We discussed five characteristics of online communities, with one that I feel is quite relevant to the knowledge I am gaining in this course. Online communities contain an element of shared resources and support. My ideal blog would foster a sense of community and be a utility resource. It would be a place where my audience was more than just that – an audience or a readership. They would be treated as members of my website who feel securely able to share their insights and experiences with one another, as a supportive exchange of resource.Through this process, social capital (the resources people obtain because of their network of relationships) is exchanged.

The post Process Post (6) Digital Literacy & Trusting Sources appeared first on Multi Monica.

Essay #1

Fake news are not the products of the modern era. In the past, politicians also use propaganda to fit their own needs. Also, in some countries, traditional media such as newspapers and magazines are controlled and censored by the government who would only approve contents that are not against the government. However, the reason why fake news became an important issue was due to the development of Internet and social media platforms as we are entering the digital era. Fake news always exist but their power grows when the method to spread information changed.

How Did Internet and Social Media Platforms Influence Fake News?
The development of Internet and social media platforms had cleared a lot of barriers on the publishing and the spreading of fake news. In an article from The Telegraph, the author James Carson summarized three ways how social media revolution influenced fake news.
First, the creation of Facebook, Twitter and WordPress decreased the cost to publish and to distribute news. For traditional paper media, it may take hours or days to collect information, to edit content and to print those contents on paper. However, with the assistance of social media platform, it would save a lot of time and money to publish information. Second, various social media platforms had increased the accessibility of fake news to a large amount of audiences. Also, because of the lowered cost, publishers of fake news would not worry about the building of trust and the consequence of losing trust. Third, it was difficult to regulate online social media by law. Most publishers of fake news are anonymous individuals. Without regulation and restriction, online publishers would not worry about taking responsibility of their behaviors.

In my opinion, I agree with the author. The social media platform had speed up the information exchange in a good way. However, speeding up the sharing of fake news was one of its side effect.

How Powerful is Fake News?
A group of scholars from Stanford University had conducted studies on the role of fake news on 2016 US presidential election.

First, in order to test the significance of social media, they conducted a post-election online survey among 1200 people. The results showed that only 14 per cent of Americans considered social media as the most important sources of information during the election (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). Later, they also used fake stories and placebo stories to conduct an experiment. After a series of calculation, they estimated that a single fake news story had a persuasion rate equivalent to seeing 36 television campaign ads (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).

In my opinion, we are surrounded by high technology and digital products in urban cities. We become attached to online social media platform to the extent that we ignored the other sources of information. We became biased and even tend to omit the fact that there are certain per cent of people who still rely on newspaper or TV as dominant source of information. Therefore, I believed that the power of fake news could be huge but it was also limited only to people who frequently use social media platforms.

What Can We Do with Fake News?
Understanding the role of social media platforms on fake news and the limited influence of fake news, the next question would be what we could do with fake news.

As a person who could not live without social media platform, I would suggest myself and other users of social media platform to raise awareness of fake news. This is the first step. Lipkin is the executive director of National Association for Media Literacy Education. She believed that “Education is key and is our most powerful weapon against falsehoods.” (Padgett, 2017). We should understand that somehow we are more or less biased but the key to avoid falling in the trap of fake news is education.

On the other hand, I think it was also the responsibility of the social media platforms to make regulations on their users’ online behaviors. Some may worry that it could damage the freedom of speech of their users but I believed that our online behavior should be regulated as our offline behaviors. Purposely spreading false news should be identified and banned. Recently, Facebook began using third-party fact-checkers and gave its users the ability to manually report fake news posts (Tarantola, 2017). It is unsure if the solution would work but it indicated that at least, social media platform companies had moved towards solving the fake news problem.

To conclude, I found that fake news always exist but during recent years, Internet and social media platforms had amplify the power of fake news. However, according to studies, the influence of fake news may not be as huge as we expected. To minimize the damage of fake news, social media users should educate themselves and social media companies should make policies to manage their online communities.

References

Allcott, H., Gentzkow,M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf

Carson, J. (2017). What is fake news? Its origins and how it grew under Donald Trump. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/fake-news-origins-grew-2016/

Padgett, L. (2017). Filtering Out Fake News: It All Starts With Media Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/it/jan17/Padgett–Filtering-Out-Fake-News.shtml

Tarantola, A. (2017). Facebook now flags fake news. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/06/facebook-now-flags-fake-news/

I Am: Political

Trapped in the Facebook Bubble

Over the past few months there has been a heightened conversation among internet users on the inundation of fake news sites and the harm it causes the education of our people. Wether it is a falsified prediction of U.S. voter turnout or a sensationalized coverage of an entertainment event, these fake news sources skew the way people view the world and misinform populations of people who have been taught to accept information without question. In light of the recent United States Election, the prominence of fake news has come to the forefront. When these fake sources are circulated online, specifically on social media platforms like Facebook, we run the risk of falling into an echo chamber of false information and filtered truths.

As online contributors, it is crucial to be aware of the sources we use and of the content we reference, especially in times of social and political turmoil. Since the new and popularly criticized president of the United States was elected, talk around the digital mistakes we have and continue to make has risen. Before this tumultuous election, terms like “echo chamber”, “filter bubble”, and “fake news” were really only known and popular amongst an intellectual crowd. Since President Trump has set foot in office, however, these terms have infiltrated many internet infrastructures.

In 2011, Eli Pariser went to TED to share his online concerns in a talk titled “Beware online “filter bubbles””. In this talk Eli touched on the lack of control individuals hold in the personalization of their filtered feed of information and how detrimental this is to both the knowledge and awareness of the individual and democracy itself. In describing the way platforms like Facebook and Google personalize content to show us what they think we would like to see rather than what we need to see, he used the analogy of a balanced diet. Pariser stated that in an ideal world we would have an equal balance between enjoyment and pleasure based content and political or crucial content for the health of democracy, or in his words “some information vegetables […] some information dessert.” (5:30-5:35) What happens when online algorithms base the information we see on the information we like, or click on, is we are essentially surrounded by “information junk food.” (5:50-6:00) This metaphor not only emphasizes the toxicity of filter bubbles, but perfectly captures the appearance of fake and sensationalized news.

Disguised as a healthy meal, and coated with a self-satisfying sensation, this information junk food is displayed all over the internet, and its click-bate design makes it nearly impossible to avoid indulging. Our use of computers and the internet for both work and play subconsciously blurs the lines between professional and recreational communication, making fake news harder to spot. (Frank) Author Russell Frank explains in “Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore” that he himself has fallen victim to fake news. After reading multiple articles that appeared to be reliable and were written in a journalistic style, he discovered that in fact all of the sources were falsified. (Frank) These nearly indistinguishable fake news stories slip into voters feeds and provide them with exaggerated and misstated information. A reporter from Buzzfeed, Craig Silverman, explained that fake election news was  shared, commented on and reacted to 20% more than real election news in the months leading to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Berghel)

Once these fake news stories enter the realm of voters and citizens internet sphere, the likeliness of them circulating is very high. John Bohannon, writer of “Is Facebook keeping you in a political bubble?”, however, states that although the bubble exists, they do not hold the same weight as some may believe. When hosting a case study with over 10 million Americans from varying political beliefs, researchers found that Facebook’s algorithm made it only 1% less likely for stories to cross over into both conservative and liberal Facebook profiles. (Bohannon) After concluding the study, Bohannon explained that regardless of the likeliness of crossover between political viewpoints, these bubbles are still no matter to be taken lightly.

In his 2012 article “‘Social Voting’ Really Does Rock the Vote” he explained the reality of a Facebook herding bias. In 2012 as an attempt to increase voter turnout, Facebook rolled out a prompt on voting day allowing users to click an “I voted” button while displaying photos of six friends who had already voted. For Facebook users who’s friends had already clicked the “I voted” button, there was a 0.39% increase of likeliness for those users to vote. (Bohannon, “‘Social Voting'”) These Facebook statistics were then compared to state voter results, and the percentage held its truth. Although this case study does not reflect exactly on the topic of fake news, it exemplifies the notion that events that take place online have real world translations and effects.

As an online contributor, I feel it is my responsibility to be careful with the content I post and share. Like many others, I have fallen victim to believing fake news, and have even shared it. As someone who has grown up with the internet and social media, my immediate instinct is to trust the platforms on which I operate. In light of recent events, scandals, and with an increase of education, I have made an active decision to question all sources I come into contact with and to think of those who I may influence. It is easy to think that my sharing a fake news story on Facebook will have little to no impact on the world around me. What is challenging is accepting that what happens online extends into real life, and that the filter bubble we see on Facebook has more control over us than we may believe.

 

Works Cited

Berghel, Hal. “Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake News.” Computer 50.2 (2017): 80-85. Ieee Xplore. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Beware Online “filter Bubbles”. Perf. Eli Pariser. TED. N.p., Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Bohannon, John. “Is Facebook Keeping You in a Political Bubble?” Science (2015): n. pag. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Bohannon, John. “‘Social Voting’ Really Does Rock the Vote.” Wired. Conde Nast, 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Frank, R. “Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore.” Journal of American Folklore, vol. 128 no. 509, 2015, pp. 315-332. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/589183.

Essay: I Want YOU! (to stop spreading fake news).

Incorporating a business into the world of social media can be challenging. The competition to grab the attention of people scrolling through their newsfeeds requires more than bright colours and click bait. Your content has to be relevant and easily accessible. But more importantly, your content should be something that people want to hear about. Otherwise the backlash can be staggering. Recently the Donnelly Group, an independent business based out of Vancouver that owns pubs such as the Bimini and the Lamplighter, made another shift in their business by purchasing the now closed Railway Club. The Railway Club had been a Vancouver staple since the 30s, but fell out of business after it’s last owner couldn’t keep it up. Then when he couldn’t see it they shut it down. When Vancouver local Jeff Donnelly decided to buy the club one would think enthusiasts would rejoice, right?

Wrong. Shortly after the news broke the CBC released an article interviewing partner Chad Cole on the future of the club, where in the interview he stated that “unfortunately [live music]’s not going to be a core element of this new pub.” The news of the Donnelly Group buying out the club spread like wildfire over Facebook and the comment sections of Georgia Straight articles and those done by Vancity Buzz were alive with internet rage. Comments ranged from “For most people The Railway Club is synonymous with live music…to bring the place back without live music is very disappointing” to “I’d rather tear it down than turn it into another generic vapid soulless chain bar. Not going” to calling out employees who work there: “…then the greasy, little floor manager comes over and says “how can I make this right for you?” What a joke”.

The anger was on. But despite the complaints of no live music, the article continued to explain that there would in fact be live music, just not as frequently as the venue had in the past. A follow up article was released emphasising that there would be at least four nights of live music a week due to the backlash. As for the “bad beer, worse food”, the Donnelly Group actually sources almost all of their beer and food locally, and is a proud supporter of local breweries and sponsor of Vancouver events. If any of the commenters had attempted to do the smallest bit of research into this new group that was reviving their so-called favourite establishment when nobody else would, they would learn all of this. This is the effect of social media news.

People have gotten used to bite sized pieces of information. Today things are limited to 140 characters, 7 second videos and status updates to express huge events in our lives. When our attention span has been trained to be so short, all we read is the headline. The drawback is that these headlines can be misleading and often don’t give people the correct information. Pre-conceived biases people hold can be triggered by a negative headline they don’t agree with or enlightened by one that they do. How many times have you “liked” or reacted to an article’s headline without clicking on the link? According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get their news on social media. NPR reported that a Stanford survey conducted found that 80% of middle schoolers in 12 states couldn’t tell the difference between fake and real news. Based on the comments sections of certain Facebook articles, I’d wager that percentage would only be slightly less for adults. Fake news is effective because people believe what they want to believe. They want something to talk about, and when everyone has their own internet soapbox, it’s easy to yell your opinion into the void, however misinformed it may be. People see a title that supports their way of thinking and because it’s a “published” piece of writing, they cling on to that.

Publishing has changed now that Facebook is in play. In the Columbia Journalism Review’s article “Facebook is eating the world”, writer Emily Bell states “The future of publishing is being put into the hands of the few who control the destiny of the many.” Facebook’s power of news distribution is huge, and who can say what will and will not be published when people’s views of the truth have become so obscure, and even the president is spewing lies in national addresses. The technological powerhouses such as Google, Facebook and Apple have all started to dip their toes in the new industry, with Apple recently launching “Apple News” to add to the growing list of sources.

“When facts don’t work and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own truth.” claims Katharine Viner in her essay for the Guardian, published in July of last year. For a piece written over six months ago, the statements couldn’t be more true now. The world of publishing and how we receive and even accept our news is changing, and people blowing a restaurant chain out of proportion is just a small example. Incidents like #pizzagate that start off ridiculous and lead to shootings could just be the tip of the iceberg if people don’t start being more responsible for the news that they choose to regurgitate.

But the public doesn’t always believe they have time, or even consider looking deeper into the articles they’re being fed. In an attempt to stop the catcall of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, websites like Teen Vogue and Slate are attempting to educate their readers on how to spot false articles, with Slate even going so far as to create a Chrome extension that actually highlights articles on your newsfeed as possibly false if they come from uncredible sources. Despite this attempt, Slate’s headline for the announcement gives off the real message: “Only you can stop the spread of fake news.” The message is clear, and if people have a duty to themselves and to those around them to believe that the truth is not subjective when it comes to delivering facts. In the end, that’s what news media has always been and what we must fight to make it today.

Sources:

1. Bell, Emily. “Facebook is eating the world.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 7, 2017. http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php.
2. Colglazier, William. “The Best TIps for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump.” Teen Vogue. January 17, 2017. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-best-tips-for-spotting-fake-news-in-the-age-of-trump.
3. Domonoske, Camila. “Students have “dismaying” inhibility to tell fake news from real, study finds. .” NPR. November 23, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
4. Gottfried, Jeffery, and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. May 26, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/.
Oremus, Will. “Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News. .” Slate. December 13, 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html.
5. Viner, Katharine. “How technology disrupted the truth.” The Guardian. July 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth.