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Fake news

Twitter bird illustration
Spring 2018

Truth or consequences

Fake news nearly started a war between Qatar and its neighbors in 2017. In Pakistan, a highly placed official bought into a fake news story warning that Israel was going to destroy Pakistan, and tweeted a warning at Israel that his country, too, was a nuclear power. And in Washington, D.C., an armed vigilante burst into a pizzeria and fired three shots, thinking he was bringing down a sex-slave ring.

While news has never been neutral, something has changed: Information has become weaponized. What’s changed, says Washington State University communications professor Doug Hindman, is that the marketplace of ideas has broken down under the … » More …

Illustration of paper with question mark
Spring 2018

How to become information literate?

It takes four moves and a habit

Michael Caulfield’s approach to information literacy is simple. He argues that we should teach students to be fact checkers instead of rhetoricians. In rhetoric, readers spend a great deal of time reading closely, analyzing syntax and word choice for tone. Fact checking, though, is quick, involving only “four moves and a habit,” Caulfield, director of networked and blended learning at WSU Vancouver, says. A recent Stanford University study supports the idea that a fact-checking strategy is superior to close reading.

Look for previous work. When fact-checking a particular claim, the quickest, simplest thing to do is to … » More …

Stop signs with x and green check marks
Spring 2018

Fact or Fiction? Using the Web to Quickly Fact-check Social Media Feeds

Although titled Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Michael Caulfield’s book is in fact for all of us. That’s why he subtitled the book as also being for “other people who care about facts.” As he writes, the web “is both the largest propaganda machine ever created and the most amazing fact-checking tool ever invented.”

Most efforts at teaching web literacy have focused, the Washington State University staff member writes, on time-consuming critical thinking and on producing and publishing things on the web. While both are valuable skills, they fail to address the much more urgent need: how to evaluate the information we are presented with … » More …