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Evaluating Misinformation Research and Tools

CNN Fake News Game:

Immediately this article will catch readers’ attention as they cleverly tie in the topic of misinformation with vaccines and the pandemic, which immediately caught my attention. The idea of the game was also extremely clever and honestly put a smile on my face as there’s a bit of reverse psychology going on within it. Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden, the game’s creators, give players the ability to create fake news headlines, memes, and other forms of media in exchange for social media followers. This is of course very much like what occurs in real life with these non-reliable pages that somehow gain and fool hundreds of thousands of people into following them. The goal of the game is that as users get better at creating fake news themselves, they’d be much more versed in spotting and avoiding it. The best part about this game is that they’re actually seeing results. With data comprised of over 15,000 players, they have found that people are better at spotting and not being fooled by fake news as often if at all. They are also taking more important steps such as creating a WhatsApp friendly version of the game in order to impact countries that are most affected by misinformation such as India. It’d be great to see them continue on with other plans to make a version catered towards the elderly and create it in more languages than they already have and continue to “vaccinate” people against the fake news pandemic.

After playing the game myself, I can definitely understand how it helps people identify suspicious media. It was an interesting game because there were clearly ridiculous options and there were some that were more subtle and believable which actually proved to be much more effective in gaining followers. The game forces you to interact with your followers and engage with naysayers online in order to save your account and its credibility. I also really enjoyed how the game forces you to challenge your morals and as I was playing, I thought to myself multiple times how I could never actually do this seriously. Overall, I think it’s a great idea and a very unique take on fixing this issue.

Business Standard:

The main idea of this article was super interesting to me as it somewhat contradicts. It states that those who trust their intuition more often are more susceptible to believing misinformation. This is an interesting idea to think about as it is almost saying that you are more likely to be wrong the more you trust yourself. However, this is hard to argue considering the fact that those who believe in direct, concrete evidence obviously hardly fall for fake news. The only flaw that I feel could be argued was their data size as there was a pretty vague gap of the sample size ranging from 500-1,000 participants. I also feel like this article’s interpretation and how it is consumed directly depends on which side of the spectrum you fall on. Do you trust your gut more, or facts more? I am firmly on the side of trusting blatant evidence that shows a definite answer and it almost surprises me that there are people who will look evidence in the face and just call it wrong in favor of their own thoughts. I’m all for intuition in the right situation such as maybe taking a risk in life or maybe making an important decision. However, nationwide/global topics are pretty clear to me. There’s been literal evidence for centuries that vaccines work, so I don’t really agree with someone’s “gut” telling them it won’t. Another interesting find was that those who believe everything they hear is politically motivated, were also more likely to fall for misinformation. This makes complete sense to me as anyone could find thousands of examples of this on Twitter as I type this. Facts are not politically biased, they just are plain, simple, facts. The last idea that was brought up in this study was that those who are more intuition based and feel everything has more of a bias/agenda behind it were more likely to fall for conspiracy theories. Now I will say I think more people than not have fallen victim to a conspiracy or two, some line up almost too good not to believe in a little bit. However, once again there seems to be a clear split theme. People who trust their own feelings over research are just more likely to fall for misinformation, false news, conspiracy theories, and all other forms of manipulative media.

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The Impact of Misinformation

The new social media age of our society has opened a whole new world for all of us. Despite all of the great things that have come with social media and advanced internet, there has been a fair share of negatives. In recent years, misinformation and the era of “clickbait” has become a huge issue on the internet and on social media.

I personally feel as though I’ve done a good job navigating through false information and doing my research when something sounds skeptical to me. However, this topic immediately makes me think of my grandma who has definitely fallen victim to misinformation online. Unfortunately though, it is nearly impossible to actually show and convince her that these stories are not real. She purchased her first smartphone about two years ago and created herself a Facebook account. Facebook is notorious for having the most outlandish rumors and false news on the site. Facebook has very extreme headlines and stories on both sides of the spectrum and it’s hard to believe really anything on there. My grandma being from Mexico and moving to the U.S. has a big part in this I feel. These last two years have been her first experiences with social media and the power of the internet, not to mention English is of course not her strongest language.

For more context she also has different social and political beliefs than the rest of the family that would maybe be called “old fashioned” so there are definitely many difficult conversations that come along when she is sharing and telling us about these obviously fake articles and conspiracies. Some examples of this being that Covid was man-made in a lab, the vaccine is going to kill us all, and the election was rigged. It’s difficult to have to say these things and face that this is what she believes when the rest of us are just the complete opposite. Plus, when you consider values in Mexican culture where grandma/nana is the superior in the family or is held to the highest of praises because anytime my mom or one of her other three daughters have tried to educate her they are automatically disrespectful and ungrateful. It’s a hard realization that this has all stemmed and only in recent years because of misinformation online and the effect social media can have on all of us. It is hard to even blame her too much she’s never had a phone or internet, or driven, or had a job in the United States. It’s overall just unfortunate that she isn’t as open minded as everyone else is or has learned to become.

Overall, I feel like my grandma can be seen as a prime example of how our older generations, or those less versed with media, can be impacted by misinformation. Anything can be said by anyone online and as unfortunate as that is, it’s the truth. I feel like the best thing anyone can do is try to explain to someone like this that not everything they see and hear is to be believed. It’s vital to do your own research and develop your own beliefs which can save many people from falling victim to these outlandish rumors and theories.

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24 Hour Media Diet: Spotting Misinformation

January 14, 9:00 a.m.: I woke up at 9 in the morning on Friday to have enough time to prepare for going to work at Starbucks. I will almost always start my day by checking social media such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. My Twitter is heavily consisted of sports news specifically the NBA and NFL, as well as all things The Weeknd (musician).

11:00 a.m.: My shift yesterday was from 12:00 – 5:45 p.m. and I usually shower around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. The shower usually consists of me either watching YouTube videos or playing music from my Spotify and today I played the new Weeknd album “Dawn FM”.

3:00 p.m.: These times vary anywhere from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. but on my ten minute break I will try to skim through Twitter as quick as possible. Yesterday I stumbled upon an article by cnet.com that discussed the differences between masks with the new Omicron variant. It compared the effectiveness between the surgical, cloth, and KN-95 masks and showed how the KN-95’s are almost our only chance and staying mostly protected. I read a stat that said cloth masks can prevent transmission for about 25 minutes, whereas KN-95 masks can prevent transmission for up to 25 hours.

6:00 p.m.: By now I’m finally home and usually once again do a quick social media cycle before eating dinner. My dad told me that California was considering cancelling the Super Bowl which would cause the NFL to move locations with Texas being the primary suitor. This led me to immediately check Twitter to see how valid this news was and I found out pretty quickly there was a rumor of this, but no real traction. Inglewood Mayor James Butts said there are no plans to move the Super Bowl despite rising Covid numbers (https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports/dont-worry-about-it-mayor-says-super-bowl-will-be-played-in-inglewood/2929883/). This story was a prime example of how social media can quickly skew information because one second the Super Bowl is cancelled and moving to Texas and just from a simple two minute search, this was proven to be false. Especially for someone like my dad who is not active at all on social media, it can be easy for him to believe something he heard without a second thought.

8:00 p.m.: I usually will try to end my night doing something I enjoy such as playing my PlayStation or watching YouTube videos. Last night I decided to just lay down early and watch videos before bed. I watched various YouTube content from gaming to reactions and fell asleep around 11:00 p.m.

January 15, 6:30 a.m.: This morning I had to go to work from 7:00 a.m. to put away the weekly order so I woke up just on time at 6:30 and immediately went downstairs to get ready to leave. I listened to music in my car on the way to work and made it right on time. Me and my boss finished putting everything away at just about 9:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.: Right at the 24 hour mark I mobile ordered McDonalds using their app to take home some breakfast for my family.

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