How to spot “fake news” on social media

Although the topic isn’t new, the recent election has recharged the discussion on “fake news” in social media.
fake-news-in-your-newsfeed

 
What is fake news?

It’s information or data appearing on various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter or other social sites – that readers often accept as real. Sadly, it isn’t necessarily true or factual.


What makes this “news” incredibly troubling (other than the fact it’s “fake”) is that a majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get their news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Now consider students. As a former college professor teaching public speaking, I explained why key points and messaging in presentations required  – no, demanded – the use of evidence. Objective data and facts from reliable sources. We covered how to source that information. Yet effectively evaluating source and site credibility was an issue for many student researchers.

In a Stanford Graduate School of Education study cited in an NPR article:

Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there, the researchers wrote. Our work shows the opposite.

Gone are the days of “depending” on others to vet sources, according to Stanford researcher Sam Wineberg, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education cited in the NPR news story.

The kinds of duties that used to be the responsibility of editors, of librarians now fall on the shoulders of anyone who uses a screen to become informed about the world. And so the response is not to take away these rights from ordinary citizens but to teach them how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy.

We can do better. And we must.

Speaker anxiety? Try this

Levi reads

 

Here’s a winning combination and it makes perfect sense to me. Connect “audience dogs” with speakers to help alleviate speaker anxiety! I love dogs and teach public speaking.

I’ve already shared this information with my friends at Canine Companions for Independence – an organization helping people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. They opened a new CCI training facility just last year in Irving, Texas.

Communication is easier with a friend. Watch this video.

Woof!

P.S. The picture you see here is my dog Levi, an adopted terrier mix. In the interest of full disclosure, he isn’t a trained audience dog.

 

 

College grads, employers want these skills

COMMUNICATION 3

A recent article in Forbes discussed the skills bosses say new college grads don’t have. Writing proficiency and public speaking skills were among the top “hard skills” graduates lacked, according to a survey conducted by PayScale, an online benefits and compensation information company.

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

My experience as a marketing director in the corporate world – reviewing job applications and interviewing recent college graduates for entry-level marketing and public relations opportunities – was eye-opening, even years ago. Many emails, resumes and cover letters had typos, incomplete sentences and other grammar errors. And even when a job candidate was selected to come in for an interview (based on their resume, job app, and phone screen), their basic communication skills could be disappointing. (Yes, I know it can be really stressful as an interviewee – I’ve been there, too – but you’ve got to be prepared to handle an interviewer’s questions with confidence.)

Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for a challenging job, an employee seeking advancement opportunities within your company, or a career changer, additional training or instruction may be needed to enhance your communication skills. For current employees, many organizations offer education/training programs for skills development or continuing education. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Read the Forbes article

 

Improving quality of life for people living with paralysis

Derek and ShaggySpinal Singularity is leading the charge when it comes to medical innovation. The company designs connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D), and they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Connected Catheter. This is the world’s first semi-permanent, fully internal, smart catheter system for neurogenic bladder.

Derek Herrera, CEO and co-founder of Spinal Singularity, understands the value of this device for millions of patients who need the assistance of a catheter to maintain renal function from a personal perspective. A former Marine, he is living with paralysis from a spinal cord injury after being shot in Afghanistan.

Find out more about Spinal Singularity and how you can support this initiative.

2 questions to persuade

ask the right questions 2It isn’t always easy to persuade someone to do something, even when it seems to be a fairly reasonable request. You’ve heard all the excuses, at home and in the workplace (I don’t have the time, it’s not my job, blah blah blah). If you have kids, I’ll bet you’ve heard some pretty creative “reasoning” as to why something won’t, or can’t happen. I like Dan Pink’s technique to overcome potential objections to act. Check out this video, posted on The Muse.

Ask these questions to persuade

We’re here. Policymakers, wake up.

Freelancers

Fascinating article on freelancers from Fast Company. It’s time for the federal government to take notice of the fact that the workforce is changing.

Pay attention to freelancers

3 tips on how to use evidence to persuade

Speaker credibility

When a presenter wants to persuade listeners to do something – or change their point of view on an issue or topic – it’s not enough to rely solely on emotion to persuade. Speakers should also use evidence to support their contentions. Here are a few tips.

1. Cite your sources. If you’re using a statistic to support one of your main points, where did that information come from? Is the source reliable and trustworthy? If you’re the expert, fine. Make sure the audience knows about your experience/expertise related to the topic. (You’re not bragging; you’re qualifying yourself as a credible source.)

2. Connect the dots. Explain how the information you cite supports the points you’re making. Don’t just throw the information out there.

3. Use several credible sources to maximize persuasion, not just one. You may have a single expert you quote whose opinion or testimony supports your contentions in a powerful way. However, citing additional sources will bolster your arguments leading to persuasion. Using more than one source should also help mitigate audience members’ possible suspicions that if only one person, report or whatever supports your point of view, there’s something wrong. Why should they believe you based on only one source you cite? I’m guessing they want to hear more.

“Work” redefined: making a living has changed

WORK ISN'T WORK ANYMORE-As a baby boomer and the daughter of an Air Force veteran, early on I imagined I would find a job and stay in that job until I retired. It’s what everyone did, right?

Times have changed. Jobs have changed. Employers have changed. Where, when and how we “work” is very different than my father’s experience. He doesn’t understand why I don’t have a full-time job. (I’m a marketing communications contractor.)

Ross Perlin’s article in Fast Company offers a succinct summary of this shift – and explains how work is increasingly everywhere and nowhere.

Medical device startup wins UCLA Knapp Venture Competition

Knapp Venture award

Team lead Derek Herrera holds the first prize check. Behind him (left to right) are Zach McKinney, Bud Knapp, Beth Johnson and Betsy Knapp.

UCLA’s student-run Knapp Venture Competition is designed to give UCLA Anderson School of Management students an intensive learning experience in the venture initiation process. Spinal Singularity won this year’s competition, and I’m very proud to know a member of this amazing team.

Derek Herrera (EMBA ’15) is my nephew, and along with team members Zach McKinney (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering ’15), Beth Johnson (EMBA ’15), and Chandrashekar Hariharan (EMBA ’15), Spinal Singularity captured first place. The competition is named for Cleon T. (Bud) and Betsy Wood Knapp, who generously gave an endowment in 1997 to support this annual event along with other entrepreneurial initiatives. Spinal Singularity’s mission:

We design connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people dealing with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D). Spinal Singularity leverages unique combinations of existing technologies to create an exponential impact on the lives of the people we serve.”

The UCLA Anderson Blog has more details on the award and the team.

Congratulations!

No amount of “public relations” will address this cat killing

Cat illustrationI hesitated in crafting the headline for this post, then realized it supported the key points I’m about to make.

Social media is transforming why, where, when and how we communicate. The landscape continues to change. Nothing is private, especially when we choose to post about it.

Veterinarian Dr. Kristen Lindsey is out of a job at the Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas after recently posting a graphic photo on her Facebook page. It shows her holding up a cat shot with an arrow, and says “My first bow kill. lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s (sic) head. Vet of the year award…gladly accepted.”

Earlier today, the Washington Animal Clinic’s website opened with this message (the site has now been taken down):

Dear Friends, Clients, and other interested folks. We just learned of the conduct that is discussed on Facebook. We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct. We have parted ways with Ms. Lindsey. We do not allow such conduct and we condemn it in the strongest possible manner. Please know that when informed of this we responded swiftly and appropriately and please do not impute this awful conduct to the Washington Animal Clinic or any of its personnel.

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Texas sheriff said Saturday that he could not arrest and charge a veterinarian shown in a Facebook post bragging about killing a cat with a bow and arrow unless an investigation determines the picture of the dead cat is genuine. Needless to say, this story is now trending on social media including Facebook and Twitter.

Are there lessons to be learned here? I can think of a few:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of social media
  • Do the right thing
  • Hire the right people

I would like to say that Dr. Lindsey made a mistake in judgment and that’s true, but this incident involves much more than a poor decision to post on Facebook. Her actions, captured with a photo and comment, tell us what we need to know about her.