The Causes of Fake News and How to Prevent It Essay

Total Length: 816 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 6

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Thesis statement: Internet technologies enable the proliferation of fake news, and only education and awareness can curtail the influence fake news has on society.

A. Claim: Prior exposure to a fake news story makes a person more likely to believe in the veracity of the information.

1. Evidence: Just a one-time exposure to a fake news item on a social media platform like Facebook increases the likelihood that a person will believe the fake news story, with the effects lasting as long as a week (Pennycook, Cannon, & Rand, 2017).

2. Evidence: The prior exposure phenomenon is a type of confirmation bias, whereby “ We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices,” (Heshmat, 2015, p. 1).

B. Claim: Mob mentality is at work with fake news, as research shows a viral post is more likely to be perceived as trustworthy even when it is fake.

1. Evidence: Becker (2016) notes that the proliferation of fake news is akin to a mob mentality, whereby people believe what they read simply because it is popular.

2. Evidence: A viral post on social media is more likely to be perceived of as true than one that can be fact-checked (Papanastasiou, 2017).

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C. Claim: Free speech enables the creation and dissemination of fake news, and free speech can also be the most effective weapon against fake news.

1. Evidence: Librarians are at the forefront of media literacy, and can help stop fake news (Becker, 2016).

2. Evidence: Aggressive and systematic tagging of fake news is essential because anything that is not tagged as “fake” will be perceived of as real (Pennycook & Rand, 2017).

D. Claim: Technological tools can help prevent fake news from proliferating, even though it is technological tools that cause fake news to be so easily propagated.

1. Evidence: There are ways of “curbing social bots,” (Shao, Ciampaglia, Varol, et al, 2017, p. 1).

2. Evidence: Using technology would be “an effective strategy for mitigating the spread of online misinformation,” (Shao, Ciampaglia, Varol, et al, 2017, p. 1).

3. Evidence: To overcome the problems with algorithms, it is also important to target audiences and bots that are geared towards vulnerable populations like “Trump supporters and young adults,” (Pennycook & Rand, 2017, p.….....

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Becker, B.W. (2016). The librarian’s information war. Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian 35(4):188-191. DOI: 10.1080/01639269.2016.1284525

Cook, J. (2017). Technology helped fake news. Now technology needs to stop it. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Heshmat, S. (2015). What is confirmation bias? Psychology Today. 23 April, 2015.

Papanastasiou, Y. (2017). Fake news propagation and detection.
Pennycook, G., Cannon, T.G. & Rand, D.G. (2017). Implausibility and illusory truth.

Pennycook, G. & Rand, D.G. (2017). The implied truth effect.
Shao, C., Ciampaglia, G.L., Varol, O. et al (2017). The spread of misinformation by social bots. Social and Information Networks.

Verma, N., Fleischmann, K.R. & Koltai, K.S. (2017). Human values and trust in scientific journals, the mainstream media, and fake news. 80th Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Washington, DC, VA | Oct. 27-Nov. 1, 2017

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