Reflection Topic 2 – ‘Fake News’: Who is responsible?

My initial stance regarding the problem of fake news was slanted towards placing all responsibility on the individual for assessing whether information online is false or not. However reading Luke’s comment allowed me to reflect on just how impractical it is for the average reader to critically assess each article or story they read to judge its validity, due to the amount of time it would take. Luke also linked a recent study from the BBC which pointed out how fake news spreads faster and to a much wider network then genuine news, (Kleinman 2018).  Additionally reading Luke’s blog also made me aware of just how important data literacy skills are in addition to traditional media and digital literacy skills. Reading Luke’s blog prompted me to do some more research into data literacy. In my comment replying to Luke I referenced a study which showed just how easy It is to manipulate data, particularly for private companies who want to make their profit margins appear to be more reliable and consistent over time (Kwapien,2015).

Reading Jermey’s blog also prompted me to re-assess my position of placing all the responsibility on the individual. In his blog post Jeremy linked to a Washington post article about Twitter executives refusing to take action to stem the flow of fake news being spread on their platform (Borchers, 2018). This led me to doing some further research into how social media platforms address the issue of fake news. In my comment replying to Jeremey I referenced how Zuckerberg, changed his stance on fake news, from ignoring the problem to later focusing on developing a solution.

Conclusion

Reflecting on false information online has allowed me to see just how widespread the problem is, and how impractical it is to expect individual readers to take all the responsibility for assessing it. Below I created a diagram to expand upon how different actors are responsible for fake news online.

Leading a healthy lifestyle infographic (2)

Word Count: 325

References:

Borchers, C. (2018). Analysis | Twitter executive on fake news: ‘We are not the arbiters of truth’. [online] Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/02/08/twitter-executive-on-fake-news-we-are-not-the-arbiters-of-truth/?utm_term=.0c22b7d61446[Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].

Kleinman, Z. (2018). Fake news ‘travels faster’, study finds. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43344256?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cjxv13v27dyt/fake-news&link_location=live-reporting-story[Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].

Kwapien, A. (2015). Misleading Data Visualization Examples. [online] BI Blog | Data Visualization & Analytics Blog | datapine. Available at: https://www.datapine.com/blog/misleading-data-visualization-examples/ [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].

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Brave New World – Developing the skills for evaluating “Fake News”

False information published online can be designed to further a political agenda, or simply to generate revenue through misleading titles, article descriptions and media in the form of “clickbait”. “Information gap theory” offers some insight into why clickbait is successful, when a reader sees a snippet of a fake news article they will draw upon their background knowledge of that subject (Golman and Loewenstein 2015).This leads to a desire for the reader to seek out the gaps in information from the snippet itself thereby motivating the reader to click the full article (Golman and Loewenstein 2015).

With regards to political agendas, social media posts crafted by fake accounts can be used in order to push a certain narrative that is factually untrue, (BBC News, 2017). Likewise bots can be used to share factually inaccurate tweets in order to make the tweets themselves appear more credible by propagating them into a wide network where they are seen by many people (Wooley, 2016).

bbc fake news post
Example of fake news article on Facebook. Source: BBC News. (2017). Russia posts ‘reached 126m Facebook users’. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41812369 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
To assess the validity of this false information online, technological interventions can be used. For instance by using online tools such as “news tracer” users can determine the factual accuracy of a tweet by analysing who shared it, and if the claims in the tweet have been verified by others within the network (Keohane et al., 2017).

(Van Dijk, & Van Deursen, 2010) argued that the critical thinking skills required for traditional media literacy are not enough when it comes assessing information online. This is in part due to the sheer wealth of options for sources of information available on the web, so new digital skills are needed to evaluate them. An example of one of these digital skills is “strategic skills” which is needed in order to develop a goal for what information you are hoping to find and for the method you will use to find this information (Van Dijk, & Van Deursen, 2010). More details on digital skills are in the diagram below.

Evaluating information online

 

Word Count: 300

Bibliography

BBC News. (2017). Russia posts ‘reached 126m Facebook users’. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41812369 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

Golman, R. and Loewenstein, G. (2015). Curiosity, Information Gaps, and the Utility of Knowledge. SSRN Electronic Journal. [online] Available at: https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=450091020087104093088074077105097112059038009000020002096086019066103093094005113027119013052038049022008092064119113000126021024091008040092093014121112021102066072086019086120013095115097084085082093086002104025024023079111105013103081089001101092126&EXT=pdf

Keohane, J., Vogelstein, F., Geltzer, J., Eden, S., Simonite, T., Gendreau, H. and Finley, K. (2017). WHAT NEWS-WRITING BOTS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2017/02/robots-wrote-this-story/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

Woolley, S. (2016). Automating power: Social bot interference in global politics. [online] Firstmonday.org. Available at: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/6161/5300 [Accessed 5 Mar. 2018].

Van Dijk, Jan A.G.M. & Deursen, Alexander J.A.M.. (2010). TRADITIONAL MEDIA SKILLS AND DIGITAL MEDIA SKILLS: MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE?. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4442/225fdb6ce0886d9bf1bfaae9117d3c238eec.pdf