Education Blog

Distinguishing Fake Vs. Real News: Can you tell the difference?

artist painting of various media sources (i.e. tv, radio, computer, pen, etc.)

Cathy Hughes

     The internet is a wealth of resources and information.  Today some people gather news stories from social media. Can you really tell the difference between fake news and real news? Fake news on social media about the 2016 presidential candidates has been blamed by some for impacting voters’ choices. The PBS NewsHour discussed the topic in one of their news segments.

     According to a Stanford study, more than 40% of Americans get their news on Facebook and more than 80% of middle school students cannot distinguish between sponsored content (paid advertising) and actual news stories.  Illinois Public Media’s “The 21st” radio talk show featured University of Illinois students who developed a smartphone app that helps determine whether news articles are real or fake. Their Chrome browser extension was created during a hackathon at Princeton University in just 36 hours. They named their project "FiB: Stop living a lie." Also featured in The 21st program was  Dr. Nicole Cooke, Assistant Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois.  She offered some tips on how you can discern real from fake news that doesn’t involve using an app. Even though the Stanford study targeted middle school students, the study revealed things that are just as important to adults.  The information we consume must be accurate or our opinions and decision-making will suffer.