In the wake of a disaster, many people are left reeling, confused, and desperate for answers. Yesterday’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas was no exception. Social media was riddled with false information, mostly because it is too soon for investigators to release information. This morning, Facebook’s “Safety Check” page included updates saying that the shooter was a “far left loon”, which was written by a far-right-wing blogger. It was the top post on Facebook for a time. The shooter was also misidentified as “Geary Danley”, and this was a top hit on Google.
The problem with these sites algorithms is that it doesn’t provide security against non-reputable news organizations spreading fake news. Fake news in a situation like a mass shooting can lead to widespread issues because people will be misinformed.
If the wrong name is released as the identity of the shooter, that person may be in danger. I remember right after Sandy Hook happened, the wrong name was released as the name of the shooter. Media outlets named Ryan Lanza as the shooter, but Adam Lanza was the actual shooter. People on Twitter looked up the name Ryan Lanza and found people with the same name, and harassed them on Twitter. The name Ryan Lanza was wrong the whole time. The problem with this is that these people simply had a case of having the wrong name at the wrong time. They did not commit a crime, but were being treated as criminals by fellow Twitter users. Fake news in the wake of a disaster needs to be carefully monitored by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
I’m sure by now everyone is sick of hearing about ‘Fake News’ but it is important to be aware of government manipulation to change public opinion. It is reported that there have been efforts by entire nations such as France, and organizations to “spread misleading information and falsehoods for geopolitical goals.”
What makes this different than Fake News is that government officials or paid professionals are using fake profiles to either gather information about users and using it against them or increasing tensions between supporters.
This new phenomenon is called, “false amplification”. False amplification provides these “fake accounts” to use “techniques they have discovered to include coordinated “likes” to boost the prominence of key postings, the creation of groups that camouflage propaganda by including legitimate items, and the spread of inflammatory and racist material.” Facebook had to suspend 30,000 accounts in France last week during their first round of presidential elections.
My advice would be to only friend people on Facebook that you actually know exist. Facebook can tell the fake accounts from the real ones by inauthenticity and other behavioral patterns. Mark Zuckerberg has been on the record saying that he doesn’t believe that fake stories on Facebook could have influences the US presidential election this past year. He could have been paid to say that. I don’t know what to believe anymore.
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‘Fake News’ has been some of the most popular buzz words to come out of politicians and media news outlets mouths as of late. First fact checking came to Facebook Inc. and now to Google. Although, this giant search engine usually has a hands off approach to policing its website, they have recently gotten pressure to follow suit.
In Google News, you will see an article that has been fact checked with a simple “fact check” label. I think this is one of the best things to happen to Journalism in a long time. Although writers and publishers should have been checking each others work from the beginning, this will bring a new integrity to news and hopefully restore some faith in some parts of the media.
Like all things, this preventative measure can only last for so long before some of the ‘fake news’ sites find away around these road blocks. I am also interested in how these algorithms, if that’s how they are policing the search results will be able to decipher between satirical websites who are trying to provide humor or exaggerate a particular story.
Either way, the idea of checking new stories should have always been prevalent. Now that these fact check labels are out there we can continue the discussion and perhaps be more skeptical of what we read.
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Google’s fact check feature goes global and comes to Google Search
Fake news has been a larger concern in recent media. Yesterday, two teams of three panelist debated whether or not fake news can be solved, and if so, how? One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how hard we try, fake news is going to still be around. Jane Elizabeth stated, in the debate, “There will always be people that refuse to believe we landed on the moon.” In other words, she is addressing that the people that refuse to believe we landed on the moon, may be writers talking about how the moon landing was all fake. However, on the other hand of the debate, the panelist believe this issue is a lot smaller compared to many other issues our society has solved. Therefore, there is a way to eliminate fakes news. What do you think? Is there a way to solve the issue of fake news?
Check out more information about the debate here