Why We Fall for Fake News and How to Bust It

Measuring the impact of fake news spread through Facebook or Twitter is more difficult. Did made-up reports of pre-election ballot-stuffing for Hillary Clinton in Ohio before the election change any votes? Perhaps not, but it did lead the story’s original author, a Republican legislative aide in Maryland, to lose his job last week On many college campuses, professors are teaching their students identify and analyze fake news shared on social…

Privacy and reporting on personal lives

Interesting guidelines, phrased as suggestions and best practices rather than rules, from a project designed to help bloggers and independent journalists — and professional organizations too — develop their own codes of ethics. Celebrities know a loss of privacy is a cost of fame. Politicians and other public servants know their power brings public scrutiny, and they carry that awareness into many of the decisions they make. That doesn’t mean, however,…

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Are we spreading fake news about fake news?

In a new research paper that Poynter says will be published tomorrow by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Hunt Allcott of New York University and Matthew Gentzkow of Stanford University conclude that “fake news” (propaganda presented as facts and designed to control, rather than satire) is not likely to have had an impact on the US presidential election. I am prepping for my first day of classes tomorrow, so I…

Facebook Has Seized the Media, and That’s Bad News for Everyone But Facebook

Facebook has no financial incentive to care whether the links we click on point to quality journalism, a silly “Which pop culture figure are you” poll, a basically true story with a sensationalized or misleading headline, pictures from a friend’s vacation, or a completely fabricated work of propaganda. When I work with my handheld or tablet, it’s a pain to get the URL of a story I find on Facebook.…

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Contemptible and Exploitive “Share if You’re Not Ashamed of Me” Facebook Scams

Outline: Various Facebook posts that feature photographs of young people with disabilities beg you to share to prove that you are not ashamed of the pictured youngsters. Other versions claim that nobody likes the people depicted in the images because they are disabled and, therefore, nobody will share their posts. Brief Analysis: The posts are the work of callous and contemptible Facebook users that are simply trying to garner attention and promote themselves…

Knee-jerk sharing of memes denigrates the truth.

Trump never told People magazine that Republicans are dumb, Sarah Palin never said “I can see Russia from my house,” and when Obama said “gotta have ribs and pussy too” in 1995 he was reading a line spoken by a character in his book. Sharing miscaptioned photos that criticize public figures or organizations for things they never actually said or did generates the kind of emotional response that can lead…