WUOMFM

fake news

Daniel X. O'Neil / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It seems more and more that the phrase “fake news” is being used against any reputable news report that doesn’t conform with someone’s distorted notion of what is true.

But, that does not mean “fake news” is not a real and threatening problem. These past few months, we’ve learned of Russian outlets that used social media to spread memes that United States citizens at opposite ends of the political spectrum gleefully reposted because it fit the narrative of their echo-chamber beliefs.

Novi man arrested after phone threats to CNN in Atlanta

Jan 23, 2018
Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

A Novi man was arrested last week and now faces federal criminal charges following an FBI investigation alleging he called CNN Atlanta headquarters several times with threats to “gun down” employees for presenting “fake news.”

According to federal court documents filed by the Eastern District of Michigan, 19-year-old Brandon Griesemer was arrested January 19 for a federal threatening charge. He has also been charged with interstate communications with intent to extort.

 

How do we sort out fact from fiction on social media? Do we really want to? It seems that people are quickly and happily sharing things online that are pure fiction without question and without a critical thought.

 

Stateside host Cynthia Canty found herself asking these questions recently when something came up on her Facebook feed. Some friends shared a story describing an airplane flight crew "taking a knee," walking off the plane, and stranding the New Orleans Saints: the flight crew's "protest" of players kneeling during the National Anthem.

 

Somebody would share the story, and then his friends would pile on, saying, “Yeah, that'll show them what America is about.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

“Fake news” is real news today.     

President Donald Trump’s favorite way of describing news reports he doesn’t like tops this year’s list of banned words and phrases.

Lake Superior State University has been producing its annual tongue-in-cheek list of overused words and phrases for more than 40 years.   

List editor John Shibley says “fake news” received more nominations from the general public than any other word or phrase on the list.

“It’s telling you how to think. And I think a lot of people are rebelling against that notion,” says Shibley.

Mike MacKenzie / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Not that long ago, most of us had never hear the oxymoron, "fake news."

But now, following the presidential campaign and election, it's hard to go a day without hearing those words. What is real and what is fake has become a critical issue for our country.

That's why the University of Michigan Library has joined with the College of Literature, Science and the Arts to create a new class on fake news. It's a one-credit course called "Fake News, Lies and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction."

man reading newspaper with fake news written on it
Mike MacKenzie / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

A conservative news website is busy pumping out stories on political candidates. The stories quickly take off on social media as people share them with friends and family.

But a closer look at the website, called Conservative Intel LLC of Grand Rapids, reveals it isn't a news operation at all.

Yesterday, before President Trump sent out his tweets about the hosts of the Morning Joe program, I was interviewed by a radio host in another city.

He asked something to the effect of whether CNN and other mainstream journalism outlets actually put out fake news? I answered that they never do -- that while respected news outlets do make mistakes, they never invent news to push a political agenda.

What was most dismaying was that the question was asked at all.

The Onion

Fake news has become ubiquitous, and it's more sophisticated and thus harder to spot, say communications experts at the University of Michigan.

In response, they'll offer a free online course on Friday, "Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts" on the edX website, which universities use to offer free classes to the public.

Brian Weeks teaches communication studies.  He says it's good news that Google and Facebook are launching new tools to help people try to determine if something is true.  But he thinks the best strategy is citizen education.

Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump launched his latest Twitter attack on the nation’s most important newspaper, the New York Times. 

Flint water crisis protest
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama had a hand in last week's grant of $100 million to address the lead in the drinking water crisis in Flint, despite a report that seeks to give Trump credit for the funding.

The report also says Obama refused to give money to Flint, which is false.

BRANDON NGUYEN / FLICKR

A new class at the University of Michigan hopes to help students be savvier news consumers.

The course, called "Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact From Fiction", will be available next fall.

Angie Oehrli is a University of Michigan librarian who helped develop the course. She hopes the class will provide tangible skills for students to recognize and avoid fabricated stories that pass themselves off as legitimate news.