Sniffing out “Fake News”

THE SEVERE WEATHER EVEN CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP, WHO TWEETED ABOUT THE STORMS.

PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP OFTEN USES HIS TWITTER TO COMMUNICATE TO THE PUBLIC, AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO TRADITIONAL MEDIA. TRUMP’S DISTRUST OF MASS MEDIA – THE LARGE, ESTABLISHED COMPANIES THAT BROADCAST NEWS – HAS BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED.

AND TRUMP’S NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH A LOW OPINION OF THE PRESS. AMERICANS' TRUST IN THE MASS MEDIA HAS DROPPED TO ITS LOWEST LEVEL IN GALLUP POLLING HISTORY, WITH ONLY 32% SAYING THEY TRUST THE MEDIA.

THIS DISTRUST HAS LED SOME TO SEEK ALTERNATIVE SOURCES FOR NEWS – AND, WITH THE OPENNESS OF THE INTERNET, THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS OUT THERE. BUT SOME OF THESE SOURCES ARE NOT JOURNALISM IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE. MANY OF THEM CONTAIN EXAGGERATIONS, FALSE CLAIMS, AND INTERJECTED OPINIONS – AND, RATHER THAN INFORMING US, THEY’RE OFTEN DESIGNED TO GET PEOPLE TO CLICK ON A LINK – OR SHARE THE STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. OFTEN, THEY CONFIRM OUR WORST BELIEFS ABOUT A POLITICAL FIGURE – AND ARE MEANT TO CAUSE ALARM. THEY’VE BEEN DUBBED “FAKE NEWS.”

AFTER LEARNING THAT FAKE NEWS ON ITS SITE MAY HAVE AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION, FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO STOP THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION ON ITS SITE. FACEBOOK IS CURRENTLY TESTING A NEW TOOL THAT WOULD ALLOW USERS TO RANK TO WHAT EXTENT A LINK IS “MISLEADING.”
IT STILL ISN’T CLEAR, THOUGH, HOW FACEBOOK INTENDS TO ACT ON THE DATA IT’S COLLECTING, BUT REMOVING FAKE NEWS FROM ITS SITE COULD BE A FORM OF CENSORSHIP. CENSORSHIP MEANS PREVENTING OPEN COMMUNICATION – AND NOT ALLOWING FREE SPEECH. IT PUTS SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES IN A VERY POWERFUL POSITION.

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Instructional Links

Website Article: Common Sense Media, How to Spot Fake News and Teach Kids to Be Media Savvy

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-spot-fake-news-and-teach-kids-to-be-media-savvy#

Website Article: Middle Web, Students Need Our Help Detecting Fake News

https://www.middleweb.com/33386/students-need-our-help-detecting-fake-news./

PDF: Project Look Sharp,Key Questions To Ask When Analyzing Media Messages

http://www.projectlooksharp.org//Resources%202/Key%20Qs%20Analyzing.doc

Encyclopedia Article: World Book Student, Censorship

http://www.worldbookonline.com/student/article?id=ar102660

Lesson Plan: EDSITEment, The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country?

https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/first-amendment-whats-fair-free-country#sect-thelesson

Website Article: Judy Blume, Judy Blume on Censorship

http://judyblume.com/censorship.php

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