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LSU professor creates site to help detect fake news

Fake News
Posted at 10:10 AM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 11:10:45-04

An LSU professor and three students have created a website to help you detect fake news.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication professor Leonard Apcar and three of his students have relaunched detectfakenews.com

Apcar, a professional-in-residence at the Manship School, created the site as a resource guide on the latest developments in fake news, disinformation and foreign interference in the nation’s information flows, earlier this year.

Now, he and international studies freshman Madison Latiolais, microbiology junior Grayce Mores and political communication master’s student Trey Poché have expanded the website to become a one-stop aggregator for the latest news, research and analysis pertaining to coronavirus misinformation.

"Our goal is to be a curator of the best work about coronavirus misinformation," said Apcar, a former New York Times editor who leads the Manship’s School’s efforts to detect and combat fake news.

Information that incites fear can spread quickly and have a greater impact on existing anxiety and uncertainty, especially in a crisis. The website debunks numerous false COVID-19 claims, including the pandemic’s origins and the effectiveness of social distancing, that are spread through social media platforms.

Apcar and his students also created a fact-checking guide to help the public identify fake news about the coronavirus. The steps include checking the headline, verifying the source, identifying biases and more.

“Being skeptical is key,” said Poché, who helps curate the website. “It is important to suspend belief and think about who/what the source is and what political goals they may have in sharing that piece of information. If in doubt, navigate directly to .gov websites.”

As part of his course on media manipulation this semester, Apcar encouraged over 20 LSU Ogden Honors College students from all majors to examine how social media, digital technology and polarization in American life have impacted public opinion about the coronavirus.

"The website was created with a broader mission to continue looking at many different forms of fake news and misinformation, and how to detect them,” said Apcar, who holds LSU’s Wendell Gray Switzer Jr. Endowed Chair in Media Literacy.

Apcar created detectfakenews.com three years ago and relaunched it in February. Its mission is to serve as a resource for students, academics and citizens to defend themselves against fake news and misinformation. The website aims to be a singular resource looking at manipulated media and fakes in the upcoming 2020 election cycle.

Check out more updates by following @detectfakenews on Twitter.