Posted by Kim on October 21, 2020, 9:00amThis is the final post in a series of 3 about media literacy and healthy social media use. See the first article "The Truth is Out There" here. See the second article "Bots, Trolls and Cyborgs, OH MY!" here.
Hone your understanding of how fake news works in this game, Get Bad News. You'll play as a professional troll, out to build a fake news empire of your own.
We've discussed why fake news is important to combat with fact checking, and who the people are that profit off spreading fake news and disinformation. Some of the key signs that you should pause before sharing are:
- The content gives you a strong emotional reaction. - Good journalism and real life events can, of course, evoke strong emotion! But professional trolls ply their trade by exploiting those feelings.
- The content perfectly matches up with your beliefs. - Bad actors twist real life events, or create them out of whole cloth, in order to make them fit simple to understand, popular emotional narratives. They know that humans engage more with news that they want to believe. These stories might turn out to be accurate, but very likely they're at least a little bit skewed. If they are accurate, spending time double checking that means you got to learn a little more about something you're interested in and feel strongly about, so it's a win for you either way!
- The content makes you want to spend money. - Do you have a sudden and intense urge to donate to a political candidate or cause when you see that headline? Do you want to purchase a new supplement to safeguard your health? Maybe donating to that cause is the absolute morally correct thing to do, or that supplement is exactly what's missing in your diet. But maybe the headline has been twisted to manufacture or intensify those feelings.
Practice with your new understanding of how fake news works in the Fakey game
When you share a story, you're encouraging other people to look at that information, and raising the profile of the original source. That raises the stakes if something turns out to be false or misleading, so err on the side of caution and do your due diligence.
"That's all well and good to say in theory," I hear some of you saying out there. "But I'm confronted with dozens of headlines and hundreds of memes a day -- when am I supposed to do all this fact checking?!"
Too true! It's incredibly challenging to do all this on your own, every single time. So let's gain some allies in our fight against fake news!
- Bot Sentinel - Bot Sentinel detects and tracks trolls, cyborgs and bots.
- Botometer - checks the activity of a Twitter account and gives it a score. Higher scores mean more bot-like activity.
- B.S. Detector - This Firefox plugin identifies fake news sources in your Facebook feed.
- Fake News Detector - This Chrome plugin helps to identify fake news and click bait in your news feed.
- FakerFact - How of Walt the AI, who scans any article you give him and tells you whether the article is sensationalism, journalism, wiki, opinion, satire, or agenda driven. There's also browser plugins! FakerFact for Chrome FakerFact for Firefox
- Tools That Fight Disinformation Online - a large collection of courses, gadgets and fact checking organizations, complete with information about who funds each of them.
Arm yourself with these resources and make our one-month fact-checking pledge into a life-long habit! I hope you've found this series and its accompanying resources helpful.
And finally: If you're a US citizen who is 18 or older, remember to vote on or before November 3rd!
One more game for improving your fake news identifying skills! Try Factitious
Remember, if you're wanting to discuss politics, we have a US politics group set up here. Please keep it off the public forums so that folks who are looking for escapism on the RPR can get it.