Fake news stories proliferated on social media during the 2016 Presidential Election.
Users shared millions of fake news articles for personal, financial and political purposes.
Social media platforms cultivate complex relationships with their users, who are both creators and consumers of content. Adding integrated advertising (such as sponsored posts) into the mix can make it difficult to distinguish real news from fake.
Professional fact-checkers read laterally, meaning they initiate a new search on a separate screen to research the content of an article or website. They look beyond what is stated on "About" pages and ignore the placement of articles in search results as evidence that the top results are the best results. Fact-checking is an active process that should engage multiple sources before arriving at a decision about the reliability of news information. Therefore, it is in your best interest to move beyond Facebook when evaluating information found there.
Adapted from: Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew. "Why Students Can't Google Their Way to the Truth." Education Week, November 1, 2016, 22-28 http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/11/02/why-students-cant-google-their-way-to.html
How do you know if the content you are looking at on Facebook or Twitter is advertising? Look for clues!
Facebook marks posts generated through advertising and inserted into your news feed as "sponsored" with this marker:
Facebook marks additional advertising content filtered through algorithms with the word SPONSORED located above it.
Twitter marks its advertising content as "Promoted Tweets." Look for the icons below marking promoted content at the top or bottom of tweets:
Is all sponsored or promoted content filtered to you through social media intentionally false or misleading?
It's a mixed bag. It's up to you to think critically and decide for yourself. Either way, being able to identify content as advertising rather than journalism is necessary when making an informed decision.