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.

Katie’s spotted delivery goes live

Katie and baby

I had checked in on mom-to-be a couple of times the previous week but had no idea I would witness the birth first-hand, in real time. Welcome, baby!

After about an hour of labor, Katie welcomed a new little one into the world. But this newborn wasn’t so little. Katie the giraffe gave birth to her calf on Friday, April 10 just before 6 p.m. CT at the Dallas Zoo. It’s a girl!

The event was streamed live online from the Zoo by Animal Planet. Eight different cameras continue to capture Katie, baby, and happenings live at indoor facilities for giraffes at the Dallas Zoo’s Giants of the Savanna habitat, including the maternity stall. Visit the live feed for updates and a daily dose of cuteness.

Besides the birth event itself, I’ve been thinking about all the preparation it must have taken to turn this event into reality, specifically communications planning.

Some considerations for organizations and communicators:

  • Do you have a communications plan in place with processes and protocols? How will you handle media inquiries?
  • Do you have a spokesperson? What about a crisis communications plan?
  • Leverage channels to communicate. Don’t depend on the news media alone to get out your message. Consider the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as the Dallas Zoo has done.

Nice to meet you, baby. If you’d like to vote on a name for Katie’s new calf, you have until Thursday, April 23.

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Zoo