HALF TRUTHS, WHOLE LIES?

Something seems odd. It feels disparate. Let me walk you through it.

graph

My Observation and Evaluation

I analysed these numbers and wondered how there is a significant 8% rise over just a year as compared to 3% over three years in usage of social media sites as news sources when 88% (64%+24%) of the population feel fake or fabricated news cause confusion. This was perplexing to me. (Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2018). And Barthel, M., Mitchell, A. and Holcomb, J. (2018).)

The number of people accessing the net for reliable information is constantly increasing and requires they be media literate. These are people wishing to expand their learning capabilities but are restricted to the extent of their learning networks. This restriction is in the form of filter bubbles and echo chambers. (FutureLearn. (2018)). One can make conscious efforts to burst the bubbles and break the chambers. They could learn how to spot fake news. (Facebook.com. (2018))

But then why is fake news still trending?

The answer to this has two aspects to it: Expertise Paradox and Motivated Reasoning. (American Psychological Association)

reason

This explains why one can never win an argument with facts and must appeal to the emotions of the opposition. (Curiosity.com. (2018)). This is precisely what news sources online do. They tailor facts and data to polarise populations and propagate seemingly scandalous news.

How to fight fake news?

What we can do to deal with that cognitive bias leading to trending fake news is to change the approach to forming our opinions and arguments. Instead of supporting our arguments by searching for favourably modified statistics, we must consciously make an effort to develop our opinions on the basis of data favouring multiple echo chambers. This ensures that we consistently grow our network by becoming the devil’s advocate.

Conclusion

The contrasting stats on fake news in the beginning have their roots in an issue which doesn’t necessarily have a technical fix. Instead, a cognitive approach might help ensure accuracy and reliability of online information and make our PLNs more effective.

Word Count: 304

References:

  1. Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2018). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. [online] Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/ .
  2. Barthel, M., Mitchell, A. and Holcomb, J. (2018). Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion. [online] Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/ .
  3. FutureLearn. (2018). Media Literacy – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303353 .
  4. Facebook.com. (2018). Tips to Spot False News | Facebook Help Centre | Facebook. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/help/188118808357379?qp_instance_log_data%5Brandomization_seed%5D=1492253759&qp_instance_log_data%5Bos_type%5D=Windows&qp_instance_log_data%5Bbrowser_name%5D=Chrome&qp_instance_log_data%5Bbrowser_ver%5D=56 .
  5. http://www.apa.org. (2018). Why we believe alternative facts. [online] Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/05/alternative-facts.aspx .
  6. Curiosity.com. (2018). Motivated Reasoning Is Why You Can’t Win An Argument …. [online] Available at: https://curiosity.com/topics/motivated-reasoning-is-why-you-cant-win-an-argument-using-facts-curiosity/ .

 

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9 Comments

  1. Hi Lakshay,

    I really enjoyed reading your infographics and statistics!

    Although, the statistics look at web usage in the US. Do you think there are any differences here in the UK? The Government are tackling fake news with defence assessments to eliminate the threat of fake news (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/23/new-national-security-unit-will-tackle-spread-of-fake-news-in-uk). I am unsure whether such strategies will succeed, especially when fake news can arise from numerous sources. What do you think?

    This article suggests that individuals are rarely stuck in echo chambers, and the effect can be avoided through checking additional sources, finding different perspectives etc (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/23/new-national-security-unit-will-tackle-spread-of-fake-news-in-uk). This implies individuals should not be in ‘multiple’ chambers. Perhaps a collaborative learning network instead? Would you agree?

    Chloe

    Like

    1. Thanks for taking the time out to read my post Chloe. I read the link you mentioned and grabbed the opportunity to look at the issue with a different perspective.
      The efforts made by the Government to curb fake news and its adverse effects is commendable. Even though the stats are based on US citizens, the concern is critical and shared between all the nations of the world and so I believe solutions might be applicable to quite an extent in the UK as well. However, the policy of restricting fake news might blur lines between avoiding consequences of manipulated misinformation and freedom of speech and difference in opinions. This path must be tread over very cautiously.
      Instead, I think more emphasis should be given on imparting media literacy and identifying the authenticity of information using different techniques like the one given in this link: https://www.facebook.com/help/188118808357379?
      A collaborative learning network, as suggested by you, is similar to being exposed to differing opinions in breaking out free of individual echo chambers and effectively increase knowledge and perceptions. However, this must be paired with cognitive improvement as suggested in my article https://lakshayuosm2008.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/half-truths-whole-lies/ .

      Appreciate your inputs,
      Lakshay

      Like

      1. Hi Lakshay,

        Thanks for replying!

        Your point is very valid, where fake news is an international problem that affects all countries. The article on how to spot fake news is excellent – I never realised this was available to us! However, for users who do not have Facebook or social media platforms, where do you think they can access help and guidance on identifying fake sources?

        The rise in fake videos on social media is also another issue that individuals face. Using AI software, videos can be produced with doppelgängers, misleading viewers (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/technology/fake-videos-deepfakes.html). These are becoming popular on platforms such as Reddit. Even though the site removes the inappropriate videos, information still travels extremely quickly. Sooner or later, people have saved videos or duplicated the original content. Does this mean we will always be exposed to unauthentic information all the time?

        Chloe

        Like

  2. Hi Lakshay,

    Great post filled with so much information. I feel smarter for just reading it!

    At the end of your piece, you conclude that the solution is to ensure that we are not present in one echo chamber, but in multiple so as to “consciously make an effort to develop our opinions on the basis of data favouring multiple echo chambers”. I’d like to ask you how we can actually get people to do this? Because confirmation bias is a well recorded human trait , see this research if interested, and as such people won’t easily engage with opposing views. With blocking on social media, and the constant tailoring to our views, it is easier than ever to block opposition out. Do you think platforms such as twitter should force users to see different views from outside their following? Or how else could we combat the issue in hand?

    Thanks
    Tom

    References:
    http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1998-02489-003

    Like

  3. This was a really interesting blog post! The infographics, in particular, were well made – how do you find using Piktochart? I have never used that myself as always used Canva but its always good to discover new resources.

    The video you put together was a good way of looking at some of the key concepts. Of the points mentioned the one that stood out most to me was that fake news is modified facts to influence people. Do you think that fake news always has to have an agenda, or can it be mistakenly placed facts? This paper by Vargo, Guo and Amazeen has some interesting points on the agenda of fake news http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1461444817712086

    Additionally, I liked how you referenced a technical fix might not be the way to solve the fake news problem but rather a cognitive solution. How do you recommend expanding individual PLN’s to those who might not have the same level of digital literacy as you?

    Tom

    Like

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