Approaches to Teaching Fake News: When Technology Acts Faster than Journalism (Roundtable)


Pedagogy & Professional / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Lindsay Bryde (SUNY Empire State College)

Fake news is not a new concept. Even when the world revolved around print publications, newspapers and magazines, there were publishers embellishing information for sensationalism to better sell a publication (Batchelor 2018). The rise of the internet has certainly led to a proliferation of false news stories and social media posts/pages rising faster than they can be tamped down. Fake news's profile has only risen as more organizations describe legitimate news sources as false when they don't like what is being said, leading to further confusion for students in the classroom regarding who to believe. This roundtable looks at how to effectively educate first-year students on credible research methods, how to vet web sources, and disseminate biased news reporting. The priority should be on recent examples to provide a practical context on the subject.

A recent example of fake news coming into conflict with fact-based journalism involved the recent school shooting at Santa Fe High School. Within 20 minutes of the shooter being named, Facebook accounts were created to depict the shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, as a Hillary Clinton supporter (Harwell 2018). The goal was to present the young man as a liberal, so that his actions could not be blamed on his political affiliations (regardless of the truth). As quickly as Facebook pulled the false accounts, more were generated at such a rate that some suggested that these profiles had been developed in anticipation of the next shooting (Harwell 2018). Students who sought information about the shooting may not realize where to go for information. The classroom can act as the first line of defense to show them where to go.

References:

Batchelor, J. “Fighting Fake News.” Science World. Vol. 74, No. 10, 26 Mar. 2018, pp. 14-17.

Harwell, D. “Fake Facebook accounts and online lies multiply in hours after Santa Fe school shooting.” The Washington Post, 18 May 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/05/18/fake-facebook-accounts-and-viral-lies-m.... Accessed 20 May 2018.

The rise of the internet has certainly led to a proliferation of false news stories and social media posts/pages. Fake news's profile has only risen as more organizations describe legitimate news sources as false when they don't like what is being said, leading to further confusion for students regarding who to believe. This roundtable looks at how to effectively educate first-year students on credible research methods, such as how to vet web sources and disseminate biased news reporting. The priority should be on recent examples to provide a practical context on the subject.