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News Literacy Project brings awareness to false information spread on social media

fake news politics
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 20:38:10-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Fact-checking applies to any kind of information. Whether it’s a statistic, headline, or quote, using sites like PolitiFact, Snopes, or Factcheck, can help prove whether its fact or opinion so you can share and reduce the spread of misinformation.

The News Literacy Project said false information about U.S. politicians continues to spread across social media.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, in 2021 only nine percent of users claimed they do share or post content about political or social issues.

Meanwhile, social media platforms are cracking down on the increased spread of misinformation.

‘Fake News’, it’s how many describe the feeling towards information they don’t necessarily agree with.

According to Bakersfield College, ‘Fake News’ consists of both misinformation, which is false information that is spread, and disinformation, which is defined as deliberately misleading or biased information.

Misinformation experts said determining the difference between fact vs. opinion is all about looking for those red flags.

Laura Luiz, Reference Librarian at BC said, “Politicians can play dirty especially nowadays."

Determining fact versus opinion requires looking at the evidence. “I always tell my students the best thing to do is not necessarily just trust what you see on the page but open up those tabs and be a fact checker.”

Luiz said when discussing politics online, do not rely on memes to provide facts.

“So much of that is taking numbers out of context or manipulating numbers. You can do so much; I mean I could come up with statistics right now to make it seem like what I want it to seem like."

Which National Political Editor Joe St. George said is increasing. “Never before have we seen misinformation at this clip, the 2020 election certainly set records."

But it’s not the only source of misinformation. “If you have a conspiracy theory rooted in lies, it has never been easier for someone to join a group, join a chat, spread that, and share that and if enough people online are believing you and liking your posts, you're going to believe it even more than you did originally," said St. George.

St. George said social media sites are also cracking down on misinformation. “The freedom of the press, the freedom of speech, the freedom to say whatever you want even though it may be a lie has always been a big source of debate in our country. You don’t want censorship but at the same time, congress is telling these social media sites, we can't have constant lies.”

St. George and Luiz both said even in smaller communities, misinformation can be impactful.

St. George brings up the fact that, “There may be nobody out there covering a rural school board election in California but guess what? A website that somebody created in their mom’s basement a couple hours ago could probably create an interesting looking article in a couple hours, it looks pretty real right?"

Luiz said, “Appearance really does matter. If it looks like a blog, like look at that URL, if it says WordPress or sometimes it will say blog in the URL, definitely keep in mind that's going to be more opinion than fact if it’s a personal website.”