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News Literacy Week: Spotting Fake Political News

Posted at 8:30 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 21:35:22-05

KATC and our parent company, The E.W. Scripps Company, have partnered with the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan education nonprofit to help the next generation of news consumers discern credible information from misinformation in today’s media.

It's all part of the Scripps mission to do well by doing good. We know the next generation has more information and misinformation than ever before available at their fingertips.

Fake news. In politics you can't escape it. Articles like this are easy to find and easy to share.

Take, for instance, the photo about soldiers sleeping at the Capitol prior to the inauguration. Just a few hours after it was taken, it popped up on a social media site with the caption, "Reports are coming in from the Capitol, massive gunfight."

Not true.

Congressional reporter Nate Reed with Newsy took that photo and posted it to his Twitter. He learned quickly he couldn't control where it went from there.

"I've never seen anything like it. A photo that I have taken was so grossly taken out of context," he said.

The spread of fake news happens across all political parties - and it's growing.

In 2019, 8.6 billion engagements on social media involving fake news. In 2020, 16.3 billion engagements on social media involving fake news.

"Fake news now has become weaponized in politics," said Chris Halsne, an investigative journalist and lecturer at American University. "It's getting worse."

One example is violence erupting on Capitol Hill, with some individuals believing the inaccurate articles and justifying their actions in the name of truth.

"I could coach people on how to spot fake news, a fake headline, most of them don't care anymore people are seeking out news that matches their opinions," added Halsne.

Gabby Deutch is with Newsguard, an emerging fact checking company MAKING SOFTWARE that libraries, businesses and yes families with fake news loving relatives are installing on computers.

The way it works is each time a news article appears, a green checkmark or a red exclamation point pops up, indicating whether you can trust it or not.
The company has a conservative CEO and a liberal CEO to ensure the company isn't biased.

"We believe there is a large chunk of people in this country who care about getting accurate information," explained Deutch.

One thing Deutch says is that fake political news will not be going anywhere. It's simply too cheap to create and appealing to someone's emotions is easy. It's profitable to run these websites.

This story is part of New Literacy Week. Find more stories below:

News Literacy Week: Recognizing manipulated content

News Literacy Week: Manipulated Content

News Literacy Week starts today

KATC participates in second annual News Literacy Week

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