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Hack the System!: Combating Fake News!

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by adowds in News, Technology, Teen Services

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Post-election anxieties are pretty heightened right about now, and election results have left many people asking, How?!? Why?!? What?!? Fingers are being pointed in many directions, but one culprit taking the lead is “fake news”. So much so, some “fake news” bloggers are actually claiming partial responsibility for the election of Donald Trump.

 

“Fake news” is a form of news satire. Content is presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism, but the actual content is anything but real and often pokes fun at current events. Fake news stories pop up everywhere on social media sites, and receive almost immediate attention, likes, shares, and reactions from users due to its sensationalized material. According to BuzzFeed News Analyst Craig Silverman, “the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News…”. Silverman used a tool called BuzzSumo to compare the way the public engaged or interacted with traditional news stories vs fake news stories that peddled false claims during the final three months of the US presidential campaign. He found that the 20 top performing “fake news” stories received 8.7 million shares, reactions, likes, etc. on Facebook while the 20 top performing new stories from reputable publications received 7.3 million.

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Does this mean that fake news won the election for Donald Trump? Most likely not. But it does mean that people either are not as media savvy as we hoped or, we tend to trust almost anything once it is posted online — no questions asked. While companies such as Facebook and Google have amped up their abilities to block ad monies that promote fake news and hoax stories, two individuals have created extensions for Chrome to help people circumvent untrustworthy new sites by warning them when they are visiting sites or reading material that is known to be misleading, satirical, or a hoax.

 

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First, Daniel Sieradski created the “B.S. Detector” on Tuesday, November 15th for Chrome browsers only. This extension will identify and flag articles from questionable resources while users are browsing Facebook.  Sieradski’s invention relies on a pre-generated list of well-known fake news sites created by Melissa Zimdars, a communication and media professor from Merrimack College in Massachusetts. Users may submit requests to update and change this list.

 

 

 

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The second extension, Fake News Alert, was created by New York magazine journalist Brian Feldman and was released Thursday, November 17th. If a user attempts to visit a known hoax site, a pop-up or banner appears to alert users. Feldman also uses Zimdars’ preexisting list of fake news sites to assist people who may not be media savvy or have been foiled hook, line, and sinker into reading and believing one of these articles.

 

These latest creations may diminish the outpouring of misinformation, but they also have a few downsides. First, they can only be used on Chrome browsers. Second, it is up to the user to proactively download the tool. And most notably, these extensions only work on the specific website domain, which means users must actually click on the website link in order to receive an alert. According to Feldman, preemptive alerts that flag articles before they are opened or read would require a more sophisticated version of his Fake News Alert Chrome extension. And similar to any antivirus software, new hoax sites can be created that aren’t in the extension’s database.

 

The good news — Both of these tools were created in about an hour and their inventors admit they are pretty bare bones. There is plenty of room for tinkering and improvement, which means there is ample opportunity for you all to hack the system and build your own app, fight against fake news, and enable people to place more trust in what they are reading!

 

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Want to create your own technology life hack? Stop by Teen Central during Open Lab time.

“Hack the System!” features examples of technology life hacks created by Ally, the Youth Technology Librarian at Teen Central. Check back on the third Friday of each month for her latest post.

Getting FIRED over FACEBOOK?!

Posted on August 17th, 2011 by Anna in Resources

Yes, it’s possible! The Federal Trade Commission approved the creation of a “Social Intelligence Report” that your employers, or potential employers, can look at to determine what you’ve been up to and whether or not they want you for the job.

These reports generally flag four things you need to make note of to keep yourself safe, and hireable: racially insensitive remarks, sexually explicit materials, flagrant displays of weaponry, and other demonstrations of clearly illegal activity. The best thing you can do is to keep away from posting about these things on any and all social networking sites you might be on. Don’t do them in the first place, and don’t post about them, even if it’s something your friends are doing without you. They’ll check out your friends list and if you have too many “sketchy” people there, that’s a red flag for them too.

Also remember, this applies to ALL social networking sites. Not just Facebook. Tweets on Twitter are now being archived in other places as well, so be sure to keep your posts clean! As PC Magazine says, if you don’t want your dear old sweet grandmother to see it, don’t post it. Duh.

According to a 2009 survey from CareerBuilder, 45% of employers use social networking sites to screen potential hires. 29% through Facebook, 26% through LinkedIn, 11% through blogs, and 7% through Twitter.

18% of employers found something positive on social networking sites to encourage them to hire someone, while 35% found netagive things to keep them from looking at a candidate again. Notice the large gap between the two, and how relatively low they both are, the positive especially? Make note of that and don’t forget it.

There are five things that are sure to get you fired, or never hired in the first place:

1.) Digital Dirt – self-incriminating photos, or a blog about your drug habits and the night you went clubbing with some friends that went horribly wrong.

2.) Terrible Troll – Scrolling through tons of social media and leaving pointless comments everywhere you can, including as many curse words as possible. This makes it seem like you have nothing to do all day, and an employer might think you’ll spend your workday doing nothing. There’s also a reason curse words are called curse words. No one wants to hear them, so keep them to yourself, please. 

3.) Big Mouth – Talking about how much you hate your current or past boss(es). Your potential boss will wonder when (not if) you’ll start to bitch about them online, and they certainly don’t want to be seen in a bad light themselves. Just put yourself in their shoes. Would you like it if someone started talking trash about you online? The same thing is true for your friends. Even if you’re “just joking” it’s not cool to talk trash about anyone, regardless of what you’re saying. A future employer will take that as a sign that you might start doing that to your coworkers, setting the stage for a broken workplace.

4.) Copious Contacts and Comments – Having a lot of “sketchy” people listed as friends and subsequent “sketchy” comments from them. You don’t need to “friend” everyone who asks to “friend” you. Especially if you don’t know who they are!

5.) Keeping all comments negative, including things that should be positive like awards you might have won, or the fun you had on your date last night. You did have fun, right? Just remember not to go into too much TMI when you talk about that cute girl from down the street!  

Also keep in mind that some sites like Facebook don’t let you delete your profile. You can “deactivate it”, but that doesn’t delete it permanently. The only thing you need to do to get your profile back again is to sign in. It’s that simple. So before you decide to get a Facebook account, keep things like that in mind.

 Wondering what all these social networking sites are that I’ve mentioned?  Want to know the best ways to navagate through the digital world so you can get to the other side unscathed? Check out this article for additional information: Social Networking 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2389428,00.asp Even if you’re familiar with these sites already, it won’t hurt to give this article a quick read through. You never know what you might learn!

 The info for this blog post came from www.pcmag.com and www.mindflash.com.