Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Warren Library hosts a series of workshops throughout each semester. Michelle Keba works at the Reference Desk in the library, and shared on the topic of fake news last week at PBA.
“What can happen if you’re sharing and liking things without clicking on them first?” Keba asked the group.
An article titled “‘6 in 10 of you will share this link without reading it’ a new, depressing study says” was shared at the beginning of the workshop, opening the door for the sad truth: people are more willing to share than read news stories anymore.
News travels fast.
“Even major news sources don’t want to be left behind,” Keba said as the discussion was directed toward the big sites: CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and others.
On a more local level, Tampa Bay Times is offering a service to the public - firstname.lastname@example.org is an email for readers to send suspicious articles to in order to be thoroughly fact-checked. Keba also shared Politifact’s Fake News Almanac, a resource listing well-known fake news websites.
Keba reviewed the more modern history of the phenomenon that is fake news. In 2016, particularly during election season, fake news websites gained a lot of buzz over the hot topics their writers “covered.” During this time the actual term “fake news” truly claimed fame.
The motive behind the hoaxes is simple: Money, or more specifically, advertisement revenue. The fake news websites churn out ridiculous stories with eye-catching headlines that sweep Facebook and Twitter in minutes. The articles go viral, and people are paying to snatch up the advertisement real estate. Thanks to the explosive nature of social media, those behind the sites are generating a heap of advertisement revenue.
“The New York Times even shared a story about someone actually paying off his student loans by writing fake news,” Keba said.
The pressing issue of biased news sources was also explored in the meeting.
Keba encouraged the students present to check facts, and try to understand all sides of a story before deciding what to take from it.
“I think one of the ways we can come together is to better understand other sides of the story,” Keba said. “I hope you learn two things here: Librarians are nice, and identifying fake news is not the easiest thing in the world to do.”
PBA will host the fake news workshop again on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Warren Library.