In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election in the United States, we heard a lot about “fake news” and its proliferation on social media, where millions of people get much of their news… and where many people like, share, or just scan through a sea of made-up headlines and news stories that can be tough to distinguish from factual reporting.
We’ve heard even more about the issue after the election, with Google and Facebook both promising to ban their ad networks from running on fake news sites, among other things.
But while there may be more fake news in our social media feeds than in the past, this is hardly the first time misinformation has been published online.
And some people view it as their duty to correct bad information.
For the past two decades, Snopes.com has been debunking myths, hoaxes, and other false information:
- Want to know if there’s real evidence of Bigfoot’s existence? Check Snopes.
- Want to know if Bill Gates is really giving away money to people who share a post on Snopes? Snopes to the rescue.
- And want to know if Marijuana can make you smarter? Snopes is on it.
The answers to those questions, by the way are no, nope, and… maybe?
Recently a lot of the stories Snopes have been investigating have been political… and a lot of them can be traced back to fake news sites.
Brooke Binkowski is managing editor of Snopes.com, and she’s my guest for the LPX Show episode 13. Binkowski has an interesting take on fake news: the way to fight it is by producing better real news.
A few notes about this episode:
- There’s some explicit language.
- One idea that’s brought up is that fact-checking articles don’t get viewed nearly as much as the original misinformation. There’s some data backing that up.
- Another is that liberals are more likely than conservaties to block or “unfriend” someone either in real life or on a social network because of differing political views. That’s based on a 2014 study from the Pew Research Center.