Sunday, December 10, 2017

Facing Fake News


Everyone has heard the term "Fake News." Most of us are well aware that much of what we read online could possibly be false information. 

But what happens when the information appears to be coming for a legitimate source, or the information is shared with us from someone we follow on social media? 

Further, it is important to also realize that the idea of "Fake News" is not a new thing. It has actually been around for a long time. 

Whether it takes the form of propaganda (remember Ramses II of Ancient Egypt from your ancient history lessons?) or what is called "Yellow Journalism," false information has been used in the past to both misinform the public and make money. 

Now, with the internet, anyone with an agenda can create false information in an attempt to sway your opinion, make money or create doubt and suspicion - just think about all the online conspiracy theories! 

Satire Versus Fake News

Some "news" gets spread on social media or by word of mouth through sources that are "satire."

Satire is not "Fake news." It is a form of humour, irony, ridicule or exaggeration to criticize or make a statement about current issues, usually related to politics or other social concerns.

So while the information is, essentially, false, its aim is not to misinform or mislead the public, but rather to entertain.

Click on a few of the links below to see some examples of satire online. Make sure to note what you find interesting or surprising in preparation to complete your blog entry.

This is That (CBC Radio)
Manatee News (Satire in Atlantic Canada)
The Onion (American Satire)
Walking Eagle (Indigenous Satire)
The Spoof (International)

The Dangers of (and Reasons for) Fake News

There is a lot of what is called "click-bait" on the Internet. "Click-bait" is anything that is used to encourage an online user to visit a website or social media page to generate more traffic and interest. 

Creators of fake news will use outrageous headlines or enticing photos to encourage users to "click" on the information. They will also encourage you to share the information in your social media space with your friends and followers. 

So when we immediately share something online without considering its credibility, we can be potentially spreading false information. We can become part of the problem, and some fake news has had some scary outcomes.

You may have already heard about the fake news that was dubbed "PizzaGate" during the 2016 American election. Read this article (click here) to find out more. Jot down anything that surprises you or you find interesting, since it will help you to complete your blog entry for this assignment.

So why do people create fake news? Aside from spreading false information to discredit someone, spread doubt or to sway opinion, false information can also be created to make money.

View this short video (click here) to find out how one teenager made a lot of money creating fake news.

Then read through this article (click here) to learn more about how Google and Facebook are attempting to restrict advertising that promotes fake news. 

Fake or Real?

Most of us like to think we can tell the difference between fake or real news. However, a recent survey of 8000 students tells a different story, so does a video created by BuzzFeed. Watch the two of them below. Make a note of anything that you think you could use for your discussion in your journal entry.

Spotting Fake News

Below are two videos that provide some tips on how to spot fake news. The first one also mentions some fake news examples. Watch each of them as they will help you complete your blog entry. Make note of any information that you find helpful and/or interesting for your blog entry.

Also read over the tips that follow on the image after the videos.

Click on image to enlarge

Fact-Checking Toolkit

Below are links to different sites that can help you determine whether information (or a photo) is fact or fake. Take a few minutes to check them out, as you will use them in your blog entry.

Snopes (and a guide to false news sites)
FactCheck (Canada-related Section)
The Washington Post Fact Checker
Media Bias/Fact Check
FactsCan (Canadian-based)
TinEye (Upload photos to determine where they appear online)

Blog Entry 

Click to enlarge
On March 11, 2011, there was a large nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The image to the right was posted on Imgur, a photo sharing website, in July 2015.

Do you think this image post provides strong evidence about the conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant? First explain in your blog entry why or why not before you do the next step.

How would you go about verifying if the claim is true or not? Based on the information you have read over and the sites you visited, see if you can confirm if the claim made in this photo (and the photo itself) is true. Describe what you did and share your results.

In the rest of your blog entry discuss what you found interesting or surprising from the different topics listed below. If you have had any experiences (or anyone you know)with fake news, please share them.
  • History of false or misleading information (propaganda and yellow journalism)
  • Satire Versus Fake News
  • The Dangers of (and Reasons for) Fake News
  • Fake or Real?
  • Spotting Fake News
  • Fact-Checking Toolkit
Deadline: Next Monday, December 18

Use this as a checklist to ensure you have completed everything for your blog entry:
  • The blog entry was completed on or before the deadline.
  • The entry includes a solid reasoning about the validity of the daisy image post.
  • The entry explains how the student verified the claim made in the daisy image post.
  • The entry effectively addresses the other six topics in a concise and informative style. 
  • There are fewer than three grammatical, spelling or sentence structure errors in the entry. 

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