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Fake News

Who do we believe?

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According to Pew Research Center, fake news is rampant on social media with about one third of Americans saying they often see made up political news stories there. About half – 47% – of all Americans get some form of news from Facebook. Many social media sites have been taking steps to confront the problem of fake news. Recently, Facebook began flagging fake news, as have other social media sites.

According to Penn State University Libraries, fake news is defined as the following:

Fake News: Sources that intentionally fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.
Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.

Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.
Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

State News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.
Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.

Clickbait: A strategically placed hyperlink designed to drive traffic to sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.

Anne Montgomery, the faculty advisor for the Southwinds, South Mountain High School’s student newspaper, was a TV and print reporter for 15 years.

“We used to be able to trust that what news people told us was true, and that allowed people to decide what they wanted to believe,” Montgomery said. “Meaning, I present the news to you in an unbiased fashion and then you can decide for yourself what you want to believe. I’m very concerned that today people no longer trusts facts. We have things called ‘alternative facts,’ but something’s either factual or it’s not.”

“People are just going to believe what they want to believe and discount facts all together. And to me, that sounds like a very chaotic world. That frightens me.”

There are some tips that can help you recognize fake news. You can check if other media outlets are reporting that story in a similar way. Look closely at website addresses to see if they are trying to pass as real news sites, and check the About section or Mission Statement for more information on the site. Check the facts in the story and find out where they came from. Also, are the reporter’s sources reliable?

“Today, anybody living in their mommy’s basement can have a blog and say whatever they want online,” Montgomery said. “The problem comes when they don’t fact check and they don’t care if they tell the truth. I think fake news is one of the biggest problems that we are facing today and it will continue to be a huge problem if we don’t get a handle on it. If people can’t count on what facts are telling us, science is telling us, what reliable reporters are telling us, who are we going to believe?”

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The student news site of South Mountain High School
Fake News