For my third peer review, I have the pleasure of reviewing Domenica Kan’s website. Her blog is about yoga and she hopes to inspire those who stumble upon her site to live a happy, healthy life.
First and foremost, I like that she has a welcome post on her front page – if the title of the blog didn’t give away her theme, then that post answered all lingering questions.
Her About section is short and sweet, and what she’s written about herself is thoughtful and personal. What I find interesting is that even though she doesn’t provide her name, the reader has a glimpse of who she is or what type of person she is.
I like that she’s added links to sites that she finds information from, or sites that she enjoys. I think this allows her to connect with her audience by establishing a community within her site. I do suggest using real hyperlinks that are easily clickable though, rather than copy and pasted links.
As a reader, I found that the readability of the site is little confusing. Her welcome page can be found twice, in the feature image/header and it is highlighted in under the header image as a “feature” post. But her most current blogpost is also in the same format, and the hierarchy of the site is confused. Also, the choice of her menu hierarchy is interesting as she has it listed as “yoga, about, quotes.”
I had some trouble navigating the site, I kept clicking photos thinking that would enlarge, but they just refreshed the page. A lot of her how-to type blogposts have vertical images filled with steps but you can’t enlarge them. I think it would be a good idea to link her images to the media file so people can view the image. Or, there might be a plug in that allows hovered images or pop up images, where readers can stay on the page.
Some critiques I found were that the title of the site is inconsistently capitalized and uncapitalized and I am unsure if it’s intentional or not. Also, for her About page, the placement of the image, and where the text ends is awkward and complicates the eye-flow of the text.
Travis Gertz (2015) mentions that there is”individual expression [with] each piece of content,” and I think Domenica would have a greater reach of her intended audience through this.
Particularly for her quotes section – which I think fits well with her yoga theme. However, I think “beefing up” her quote related post would make her personal cyberstructure more relatable. I would suggest adding something significant about herself and how she relates to the quote, or adding to the context of the quote or why she likes it would enrich her quotes section.
So far, I’ve enjoyed reading what my peers have written about my blog, but I still feel hesitant to review theirs. James Hamblin (2016) notes that “it’s up to us to know when and how to break those [social] rules in ways that don’t unduly offend or put other people out,” and I find that offering constructive criticisim to an unknown classmate straddles the same boundary.
But with that said, I hope I haven’t offended anyone so far, and the peers I’ve reviewed have found my critiques useful.
False news has drastically grown within the past year, particularly through the unfortunate (no offence) Presidential election of Donald Trump. It’s systematic, misinformed, and it aids the destructive narrative of racism, sexism, and every other harmful –ism out there.
Within the environment of news media today and with the state of legitimate news, a reader always has to ask themselves who wrote it? Where did it come from? But why is it important to question this information?
New modes of communication have changed what types of images are created and expressed. The atmosphere of social media and news has distorted the simple action of clicking, and sharing.The power of false news does not lie within the medium producing, but in those who chose to share it.
The role of social media allows individuals their own agency, and their own type of ownership of information. Thus, echo chambers act as an agency for allowing systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc, to be reinforced and active. As Andrew Warner (2002) explains, echo chambers as public discourses “crave attention like a child…[and] the modern system of publics creates a demanding social phenomenon” (p.419).
False news on social media acts as a vehicle for validation of one’s thoughts, whether it be as trivial as tomatoes being a fruit, or as serious as Donald Trump denying minorities their rights. Social media news feeds play a role in shaping public opinion by allowing false news to easily be curated, and circulated. In dispersing fake news, and allowing publics to actively discuss, and believe it, allows the medium to thrive. False news allows confirmation bias and that information reinforces their thoughts and makes the reader, or the person sharing or commenting, feel good about their opinion. It legitimatizes it.
The algorithm of social media news feeds allows information to be cherry picked, and methods of personalizing content acts as a filter to what type of news one can be exposed to.
Mike Caufield (2016) notes that digital literacy is more than going through a checklist. It is not solely about “using skills, but [also] knowledge.” It is the ability to use, distinguish, and critically read and produce digital content. In order to fully grasp the importance of digital literacy, one has to critically question where the content is coming from, who is writing it, and why is it important. He thoughtfully notes that “the person without the background starts from nothing and nowhere;” someone who has knowledge about something knows the right questions to ask. “Abstract skills aren’t enough,” one needs to be able to build upon their skills in terms of language, design, style, and method of delivery.
Probably the most used, and most effective, ploy of false news are titles. Titles allow sites to legitimatize their false news stories by using popular controversial topics and sensationalized news. Elle Hunt of The Guardian (2016) notes that “these stories – compelling to click on, and with a ‘truthiness’ quality to them – soar on the social web, where links are given the same weighting regardless of source.”
Caufield (2016) notes that recognizing certain aspects of a site, in terms of looks, symbols, and content, allows a reader to identify bias and the goals of the site. In regards to politics, without knowledge of far right or far left symbols and phrases, Caufield (2016) argues that it would appear “normal” to some, and “that’s the weird thing about [it]…. that’s what would make any informed viewer look a bit more deeply at it, not RADCAB analysis, not CRAAP, and not some generalized principles.” Without a common connection, one cannot can discern what is online because they will not be familiar with the content. Essentially, it is like asking a child to vote based on the colours blue and red – if one does not understand what the colours mean, it seems like a harmless decision.
As liberating social media is as a platform in sharing news, it can also be harmful and destructive. For those who understand the power of social media, and the strength of online circulation, it is a tool in which harmful narratives and false information can be easily spread.
In producing or reading content, “videos [or any type of online media] requires [an] understanding [in order to] develop a rich sense of media literacy” (Boyd, 2014, p. 210). The lack of knowledge on how to read media, or ignorance of recognizing false news will be potentially be the pitfall of critical discussion and the delegitimization of real news.
As an individual who shamefully does not know much about politics, I have enough applicable skills to differentiate unbiased, and real news. Satirical articles walk a fine line between false news, and critical exposure. It goes back to Caulfield’s argument of being informed – if one doesn’t recognize satire, it will become a nightmare.
8Shit.net, recently distributed an article about the messaging platform Whatsapp, and how users would start getting notifications for screen-shotted messages. The reasoning behind? The CEO was “tired of his girlfriend screenshotting his chats.” It’s seems like a legitimate reason right? Reader’s are able to resonate with the reasoning, and it’s straight from the CEO himself. However, only those who are familiar with satirical sites, or false news, will look at this from a critical view. The first sign of that the article isn’t true, is the site’s name. 8Shit doesn’t try to be MSNBC, CNN, or BBC. They even provide a disclaimer at the bottom of the article, for people to discredit their information. Those who fail to recognize satire, are more than likely to fall into the circulation of false news.
Essentially, fake news is the new form of click bait, but they have the advantage of potentially being believable. It has the ability to frame situations with bias, and in favour of the publisher. Let’s look at some more examples.
Last year, a video of a group of sorority girls were ridiculed for taking selfies at a baseball game. The announcers tore them apart and viewers are angry – as they were taking selfies instead of paying attention to the game. Here is a clip of what went viral:
The video has 53 million views. 53 MILLION VIEWS. What the viral clip didn’t show? The announcers, and stadium, asked people in attendance to tweet a fan photo, hashtagging #AZDATASTRONG to be featured in an upcoming broadcast.
Had this been included prior to the clip going viral, would the response to the video been different? One can’t say now, but now, one has all the information of the event, and not one that has been consciously framed. Even “legitimate” news sources are able to produce fake news.
The moral of the story? Always fact check before sharing something on social media (you do not want to add to the circulation of false news. Look into who’s writing the article, what there credentials are. Would you trust a fair political analysis by a far right Democrat supporter with links in their article all linking to pro-trump sites? They are certainly entitled to their opinion, but they are not a legitimate site or real and true news. It’s easier said than done but never take something you read off the internet at face value, unless you’ve done your research.
Boyd, D. (2014). Chapter 8: Searching For A Public of Their Own. In It’s Complicated. Retrieved from http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf
Caulfield, M. (2016, December 19). Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One? Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/
Hunt, E. (2016, December 17). What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/18/what-is-fake-news-pizzagate
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf