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FSC Aims to Educate on Fake News

The Roux Library held a seminar dedicated to explaining what fake news means and how to avoid it.

Fake news has been around for a while even dating as far as the 1970’s. According to a Stanford study 60 percent of people thought Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination was a conspiracy.

“One of the big things that I think people are concerned with is how fake news has spread like wild fire on social media sites,” Julie Hornick, Instructional Services Librarian, said.

Hornick talked about the need to understand the differences between what is fake news and what is valid. Social media is a main avenue to collect clicks without having backed sources. They depicted this by showing two articles one with a more salacious title and one with a more neutral title.

The seminar was broken up into three parts, which focused on how headlines can be misconceived.

Hornick talked about how the sites will outsource their headlines to a third party, which make the headline sound different on different websites.

“There are certainly headlines out there that will get you to click. There might not be a generic of a purpose to it,” Hornick said.

Hornick also talked about how emotions are a driving factor for headlines that become fake news. The students in attendance were then given a series of different types of words that they had to make into either a click bait headline or a neutral headline.

The session also discussed the publication of articles, particularly how the article’s featured image relates to the overall piece.

“The images are often the reason people click on an article or not. Sometimes they are relevant and informative, other times they are not related at all,” Steven Wade, Instructional Servies Librarian, said.

There were several activities where students paired headlines with images to illustrate the importance of the image in conjunction with the headline of the article.

Information sessions talking about fake news are as important as ever with many politicians using the term “fake news” as a way to discredit the other side.

A Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy states that most Americans find it harder to be well informed and determine which news is accurate.

Recently President Donald Trump called “fake news” a New York Times report that he tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Muller after Muller took control of the Russian election investigation.

“They are trying to distract you. How many times has the New York Times and others gotten it wrong,” Sean Hannity, Fox news host, said.

Later in the broadcast Hannity admitted that his sources were wrong and that the incident with Trump and Muller did happen.

For more tips about how to avoid fake news visit “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Source”. Written by Melisa Zimdars of Merrimack College, the Google doc offers a comprehensive list of what is considered fake news and what sites to avoid.