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…

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

In The Republic, Plato uses an extended metaphor involving prisoners who can see nothing but shadows projected on the cavern wall. They know only blurry outlines of the true objects represented by the shadows, and they pride themselves on how well they can memorize and relate to the puppet shows performed by their captors. If anyone from the outside world were to come down to them and describe color, sunlight,…

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,…

Traditional Reporters and Data-driven Analysts Both Underestimated Trump’s Chances

A data-driven news outlet that gave Trump a 3-in-10 chance of winning the electoral college analyzes its own failure, and the failure of organizations that looked at the same data and gave Trump a 1-in-100 chance of victory. The article also explores the backpedaling of traditional journalists who had confidently predicted a Clinton win. Too late for me to read this tonight, but I’ll save it for my new class…

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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…