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8 Ways to Detect Fake News on Social Media


As the world continues to charge full steam ahead in this digital age, massive amounts of news stories are being circulated via social media.  People rely largely on receiving the day’s news on their smart phone- it is easy to access, easy to share- but how do we know if the information we are reading and sharing is accurate?  Society seems to have traded the ideas of fact and evidence for emotions and personal belief when it comes to the news, hence, the perfect storm for fake news to continue to occur.   Have you fallen victim to being duped by an untrue story?  Let’s nip fake news in the bud! Below is a list of 8 ways to detect a fake news on social media.

#1 1. CONSIDER THE ARTICLE SOURCE

What is the source’s mission? It’s ok to do a quick investigation into the website where the story originated from. The article, “Source Detection of Rumor in the Social Network- A Review” from the scholarly journal, Online Social Networks and Media, outlines how to analyze the approaches for source detection of misinformation on social networks.
“As rumors play with the sentiments of the person and their spread introduces negative impact in the society, it is very vital to control such rumor diffusion using source detection” (p.40)

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#2 2. READ BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Outrageous headlines can draw in people to click on the story. While understanding how the construction of outrageous headlines draw people in is important, so is the understanding of how the false narratives behind the headlines are constructed. The article, ‘How People Weave Online Information Into Pseudo knowledge’ by the scholarly journal, Social Media + Society, studies how we can examine how people construct a false narrative.

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#3 3. CHECK THE AUTHOR AND SUPPORTING SOURCES:

Run a quick search on the author. Are they creditable? Is the author a real person? Sometimes, fake news stories will use a fake name for the author! Are there any supporting sources in the reference list? The article, ‘Fake News: A Technological Approach to Proving the Origins of Content, Using Blockchains’ published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., discusses the blockchain-based application. This is technology is capable of indicating the authenticity of digital media. ‘This tool can show, beyond doubt, the provenance of any source of digital media, including images used out of context in attempts to mislead’ (p. 356).

Image Source: ILLUSTRATION: SÉBASTIEN THIBAULT
http://science.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.lib.purdue.edu/content/359/6380/1094

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#4 IS IT A JOKE?

If the story seems too outrageous, it may be plain old satire, or it could be satire masked as activism. It seems as though sometimes satire may have ulterior motives. The article, ‘Fake accounts, real activism: Political faking and user-generated satire as activist intervention,’ published by New Media & Society, explores user-generated political satire in Italy by focusing on fake political accounts. By fake accounts, the author refers to humorous social media accounts that satirize a politician or a political organization through impersonation. The interviews depict a picture that brings credit to the characterization of satire as a form of activism (p.2208). Another useful resource on detecting satirical fake news can be found at: http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W16-0802

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#5 CHECK YOUR BIASES

Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement. It is hard but, try to stay objective! The article, ‘Mediated Skewed Diffusion of Issues Information: A Theory’ published by Social Media + Society, makes the assertion that, “people highly invested in particular issues are the most likely to actively seek messages to share with their social media networks; however, their ego-involvement in an issue also makes it difficult for them to accurately assess the quality of those arguments. Therefore, many of the issue messages shared on social media are both polarizing and low quality” (p.1).

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#6 ASK THE EXPERTS

Still have questions regarding the validity of an article? Don’t be afraid to seek out a reputable fact-checking website or even a librarian! This next article, ‘Library Literacy Program: Library as Battleground for Fighting Fakenews,’ explores the need for institutions of higher learning to scale up their competitive advantage in the provision of knowledge through library literacy program enhancements.

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#7 ARE THE SAME STORIES/TALKING POINTS BEING USED BY MANY OUTLETS?

Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting and author, gives a very detailed TED talk on How Real is Fake News? Attkisson, a thirty-year journalist veteran, was a correspondent and anchor at PBS, CNN and CBS News. She discussed two major ways to detect Fake News in the media: 1. Is the media organization shaping stories instead of reporting the facts of the stories. 2. Are a majority of media organizations reporting the same exact stories, giving the same exact talking points, and buzz words?

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#8 CHECK THE ARTICLE DATE & RECAP THE LIST INFORMATION

Sometimes old news stories find themselves circulating again. Be sure to check the date- the re-posting of older stories does not mean they are applicable to today’s current events.

**LET’S RECAP THE LIST**
Let’s review the list of how to detect fake news on social media… who doesn’t like a good video? Noah Tavlin, a TED ed employee, published a comprehensive video of how fake news can spread rapidly. He also touches on the concepts of circular reporting. Check it out… it is very informative!

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