"Following the 2016 US presidential election, many have expressed concern about the effects of false stories ('fake news'), circulated largely through social media. We discuss the economics of fake news and present new data on its consumption prior to the election. Drawing on web browsing data, archives of fact-checking websites, and results from a new online survey, we find: 1) social media was an important but not dominant source of election news, with 14 percent of Americans calling social media their 'most important' source; 2) of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favoring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favoring Clinton were shared 8 million times; 3) the average American adult saw on the order of one or perhaps several fake news stories in the months around the election, with just over half of those who recalled seeing them believing them; and 4) people are much more likely to believe stories that favor their preferred candidate, especially if they have ideologically segregated social media networks."
"Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has taken control of the traditional media in Russia: TV, radio and newspapers. As Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated, the Kremlin sees the mass media as a ‘weapon’. Now Russia’s leadership is trying to take control of social media too, and for this massive operation a new information warfare tool has been mobilised—an army of fake social media Putin-fans, known as ‘trolls’. My investigation has discovered that coordinated social media propaganda writers are twisting and manipulating the public debate in Finland, too. Trolls and bots distribute vast amounts of false information in various languages, and target individual citizens for aggressive operations. Aggressive trolls have created a feeling of fear among some of my interviewees, causing them to stop making Russia-related comments online. Trolling has had a serious impact on freedom of speech, even outside Russia. Thus, it should be viewed as a national security threat that needs to be addressed accordingly. The question is: how should the Kremlin’s trolls and disinformation be countered?"
"Katniss Everdeen, the narrator and protagonist of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, survives the grueling ordeal of forced participation in two games to the death through both physical prowess and mental agility. Both within and outside of the Games, she demonstrates information and media literacies. By becoming adept at interpreting and using information and the media, she not only survives, but also outwits the Gamemakers, undermines the power of the Capitol, and sparks a revolution. Collins’ novels thus reflect, model, and critique the information and media practices of the society in which Katniss lives—and, by extension, those of our own society. In addition, the books suggest that information and media literacies can be powerful tools of resistance for people oppressed by totalitarian governments. For Katniss, surviving the Games requires these literacies; at the same time, the Games themselves, and more broadly speaking the oppressive government of the Capitol, facilitate their development."
"In this article, the author addresses some challenges to information searches and information evaluation which were brought by the Internet. Large segments of audience are exaggerating their awareness and do not realize that their online behavior is driven more by emotions than by critical assessment of primary sources. The result is growing popularity of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, propaganda, and alternative medicine. These are all examples of biased reasoning. Due to scientists, scholars, teachers, and journalists, this trend can be considered as a potential threat to public health and democracy. Publics incapable of informed choices can be manipulated to support radical political utopia or to reject evidence based treatments. Some basic principles of media literacy, scientific literacy and critical thinking are outlined. They can be used as tools for raising awareness, enhancing reasoning and adopting more objective perspective. This article is based on assumption that behind irrational beliefs there often lies anxiety, precondition for distrust derived from childhood. Not only general users of the Internet tend to overestimate their competence in domains of their interest (so called Dunning-Kruger effect), their behavior may be affected by unrecognized emotional agenda (cautious monitoring of environment for danger, suspicious attitude towards authority figures and official sources of information). The article is enclosed with some recommendation how to evaluate information sources on the Internet and how to be more empathetic in online discussions in order to inspire to reasonable and healthy choices."
"We are awash in words and images that sound and look like real news, but are not. This article considers certain kinds of fake news as a genre of digital folklore and attempts to sort out the differences among fake news hoaxes, pranks, satires, and parodies. It offers examples of each and tries to show how fake news functions as folk political commentary or folk media criticism."
"Western democracies have seen a decreased participation in activities traditionally associated with political participation. One aspect of participating politically is to keep up-to-date with what happens in society, for example, by following the news. Here, youth have been found to be less active than older generations. The decline in young people’s consumption of news media does not necessarily mean that they are disinterested in news or politics; they may get their information from other sources, for example, social media. Using a qualitative multi-method approach, this article investigates how young people who are interested in civic and political issues, and who regularly access news from various sources, experience and understand, specifically, Facebook and Twitter as sources of news about public affairs. The participants appreciated the immediateness of social media news, and felt that it could provide insights into new perspectives and make news stories feel more relevant. However, it was also experienced as one-sided, fragmented, and subjective, giving a biased, or even false, image of what happens in society.
The consumption of news was strongly related to the idea of being a “good” citizen. However, since the participants did not regard social media news as “real news,” their image of themselves as citizens suffered. If young people in general resemble our participants in this respect, research that asks about their news consumption runs a risk of getting answers that underestimate it, thus reinforcing the idea that young people are less interested and informed about public affairs than is actually the case."
"Fuelled by the Arab Spring, the question of how the rise of internet-mediated communication affects authoritarian regimes has received unprecedented attention within the discipline of communications. However, in this debate, scholars have not yet turned to the concept of literacy and addressed the role of citizens’ knowledge about political media in any greater depth. This is surprising since the concept of literacy as ‘emancipatory knowledge’, in Sonia Livingstone’s words, has a ‘long and proud history’ of being linked with processes of enlightenment, political empowerment and democratization. The present study contributes to filling this gap by suggesting four highly consequential facets of critical news literacy in contemporary Russia, a high-profile hybrid regime. The conceptual development is grounded in western literature and 20 in-depth interviews with young, urban and educated Russians."
"My alternate title for this post was “The Internet is awesome. Start acting like it.” It is a call to arms to shift our attitude away from magnifying the perils of online research and towards examining the many types of useful information along with how and when to use them; to shift our primary focus away from teaching how to find information and towards engaging critical thinking skills."