Reflection on Fake News

Credit: Snopes

Coming into a topic about ‘fake news’ I thought it was a chance for me to educate, as I considered myself adept in identifying fake news. However, over the course of this topic, I learnt a lot.

I had discussed with friends that artificial intelligence could be a solution to fake news. However, over this topic I sided with the view that artificial intelligence couldn’t safely create a solution in the foreseeable future. I highlighted this hesitant flirtation in my comment on Stephanie’s blog. Stephanie’s response was thought provoking, as fake news has largely utilised technology, and as such it is hard to see how it will fix the problem – likely only creating more confusion.

Credit: Self-made with Piktochart, 2018

Having concluded that technology was not THE solution, I felt that the best approach was continued education of individuals. Reading Lakshay’s blog, I considered how echo-chambers contribute to fake news due to confirmation bias, and discussed Lakshay the difficulty of getting individuals to leave these chambers. Ultimately, I think the best solution is to force service providers to fact check, and expose users to diverse range of sources, whilst also ensuring we teach individuals how to check for themselves.

In terms of my individual progress, using the steps outlined in my initial post, I revisited my bibliography for my upcoming dissertation, and decided against including the article below:

The currency was not important. However, the reliability seemed problematic- there were no references, and very few sources agreed that Hungarian Parliament had ever considered banning encryption. Furthermore, looking into the author, he had no credentials in this field. Lastly, the author wrote various sensationalist pieces, and as such the purpose of the piece was likely to get clicks and not reliably inform.

Therefore, this topic has been both theoretically thought-provoking and practically useful.

Word count: 297

Link to my first comment on Stephanie’s blog: https://stephanietituss.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/fake-news-epidemic/comment-page-1/#comment-15

Link to my comment on Lakshay’s post: https://lakshayuosm2008.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/half-truths-whole-lies/comment-page-1/#comment-12

 

 

Are YOU contributing to fake news?

 

Bertrand Russell once said

“Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.”.

However, this is easier said than done. It seems that on a deep psychological level, we are attracted to clickbait and sensationalist headlines, which leaves us vulnerable to believing false information. Especially when we consider that lies travel faster than truth (Vosoughi et al, 2018).

Pictured: Fake news travels faster.
Credit: Self-made with PiktoChart

As fake news has developed, it has shifted away from celebrity death hoaxes towards politically charged stories. There are ‘bots’ which are “effective in attacking, hijacking, and altering discourse on social networking sites” (Wagner, et al., 2012),  and some believe this fake news was crucial in Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 USA election (Parkinson, 2016).

Identifying the power of fake news, organisations such as PolitiFact and Snopes attempt to categorise stories by their validity. Similarly, social-media sites started “punishing” those who publish false information. However, there will always be fake news so it’s crucial that individuals improve their own manual skills of identification.

Whilst Facebook and FullFact have published guides to identifying fake news, I outline an alternative approach to evaluating authenticity and reliability of news below:

Credit: Self-made with Biteable. Source for confidence on news: Statista.
If you can’t remember the steps – just save the image below and refer to it when in doubt!

Credit: Self-made with Pitkochart, 2018.

From these questions, one should look for the news to be:

  • Up to date
  • Backed up by additional sources
  • Credited to an author and publisher who have a good reputation.
  • Looking to inform without huge bias.

I concur with Coughlan that we should educate children about “fake news”(Coughlan, 2018), and this could be achieved through a game, as suggested by Cambridge researchers. These skills will prove as crucial as reading and writing.

In conclusion, it seems identifying reliable sources cannot be fixed by technology itself. Therefore, it is crucial that we follow the “CRAP” process, and check fact-checking sites, before we share, or even believe, things we read online.

 

Word Count (excluding in-line citations): 300 words.

References:

B. Russell, (1951). The Best Answer to Fanaticism–Liberalism. The New York Times

B. Gardiner, (2015). You’ll be outraged at how easy it was to get you to click on this headline. Wired.com 

C. Wagner, S. Mitter, C. Körner, and M. Strohmaier, (2012). When social bots attack: Modeling susceptibility of users in online social networksProceedings of the WWW ’12 Workshop on ‘Making sense of microposts

S. Coughlan (2017). Schools should teach pupils how to spot ‘fake news’. BBC News

H. Robinson (2016). Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election. The Guardian.

S. Vosoughi, D. Roy, S. Aral (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science Mag

 

 

Reflection: How do we tackle digital differences?

Before this topic, I had not considered digital differences. I had accepted inequality and discrimination offline but never stopped to consider the effects it may have online. However, I am now able to appreciate that there are a multiplicity of factors which ultimately make our digital experience’s different.

Despite concluding I was not negatively impacted by any of the factors, I felt that there was a huge need to actually do something. At the end of my initial post, I flirted with the concept of making internet access a human right. However, as Bivash pointed out, a Human Rights based approach is not a simple solution as access to the internet in third world countries can often lead to an increase in piracy – something which I simply hadn’t considered. Furthermore, the reality of actually implementing internet access as a right was highlighted by Iarina’s evocative reply to me on her blog. Iarina highlighted how in Romania, they had implemented fibre optics in a village with no electricity – and suddenly the internet wasn’t so important!

Exampled: Right to Internet without access to other amenities Credit: http://www.prointech.com.co/three-questions-about-facebooks-vague-plan-to-expand-internet-access/

Coming from a legal background, I am sometimes guilty of thinking about a theoretical change as it may appear on paper – but not fully considering the realities of it. Therefore, as I discussed with Megan (only with specific reference to gender), I’ve concluded a broad “human right” is not the solution to digital inequality, and we are better off having specific measures for each factor, as there are a variety which have to be tackled, so there is unlikely to be a “one size fits all” approach. According to Pew , between 2001 and 2016, internet usage has increased throughout most groups (Pew, 2012) – so we are moving in the right direction and must keep going.

Credit: http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/04/13/digital-differences/

 

 

My comment on Iarina’s blog here.
My comment on Megan’s blog here.

 

References:

Zickuhr, K., & Smith A. (2012). Digital Differences, Pew Internet