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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References

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. https://thebulletin.org/technology-helped-fake-news-now-technology-needs-stop-it11285

Heshmat, S. (2015). What is confirmation bias? Psychology Today. 23 April, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias

Papanastasiou, Y. (2017). Fake news propagation and detection. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3028354
Pennycook, G., Cannon, T.G. & Rand, D.G. (2017). Implausibility and illusory truth. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2958246

Pennycook, G. & Rand, D.G. (2017). The implied truth effect. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3035384
Shao, C., Ciampaglia, G.L., Varol, O. et al (2017). The spread of misinformation by social bots. Social and Information Networks. https://arxiv.org/abs/1707.07592

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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