Review: Fake news on the Internet is still a hot topic

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by Tatyana Nyborg
Metro Campus Associate Editor

Social media rolled into the space of information, like a bulldozer, and almost flattened traditional mass media, such as newspapers, for example.

Twitter claims about 50 million members in the United States, and Facebook is one of the most popular social media in the world with millions of users.

The Internet is flooded with stories and videos from playing cats to politics and history.
Some news on the Internet is not true, but it is written professionally so it is hard to identify that it is fake.

Adam Brennan, librarian at the Tulsa Community College (TCC) Metro Campus, keeps educating TCC students and personnel how to spot false information online.
Brennan gave excellent talks with the support of a PowerPoint presentation at the Metro “Lunch and Learn” events in 2016 and summer 2017.

One of his last speeches was followed by a constructive student discussion, which occurred at The Connection newspaper office on Sept. 25, 2017.

The most shocking case about the negative impact of fake news, which the librarian mentions, is the “pizza gate,” when a man read and believed false news on the Internet that a pizza restaurant was used by Hillary Clinton as a child slavery location.

The man brought a gun to the restaurant to “save the children.” Luckily, nobody died in that case.

Other “bright” fake stories published on Facebook within the last two years include posts about loggers who accidentally cut down the world’s oldest tree in the Amazon forest and the robotic bear Seppukuma engineered in Japan to aid in assisted suicide.

Jake White, assistant managing editor for The Connection, wins an I-Pad at the summer 2017 “Lunch and Learn” event devoted to false information online.
Jake White, assistant managing editor for The Connection, wins an I-Pad at the summer 2017 “Lunch and Learn” event devoted to false information online.

The false story about the Colorado McDonalds offering the first marijuana friendly smoking section appeared on Facebook at the time when the discussion about legalizing marijuana was hot in other mass media.

Brennan advises to always check the source and author of a suspicious article.
“Look in the comment section of a post to see if someone has already uncovered that it was fake news,” he says.

“Google an article from a social media post and verify from a trusted source,” the librarian continues. “See if the story came from a standard news outlet, such as CNN, CNBC, BBC or The Guardian.”

Brennan recommends to use the following resources for verification of facts and mass media websites:
www.snopes.com, www.factcheck.org, www.politifact.org, Ulrichsweb and Zimdar’s list.

The librarian also instructs to differentiate satire from real news on the Internet.

“The most commonly seen satirical sites are “The Onion” and “Berowitz Report,” he says.
Brennan underlines that TCC librarians are always ready to help students with resources and could be contacted in person or at the library website http://askus.library.tulsacc.edu.

tatyana.nyborg@tulsacc.edu

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