No, this is not about fact-checking the current president’s tweets, though they are often false. This is about how people can fake tweets from his twitter and other people fall for it (so many people, including some of my Facebook friends).

This particular tweet went viral earlier this week, and it’s not real.

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How do we know it’s fake? It looks like a real tweet, right? Well, there’s its ridiculousness and misspelling, but that can be believable nowadays. But you can also easily fact check if a Trump tweet is genuine. First you can use Twitter’s own Advanced Search. You can use it to search words or phrases or all tweets on particular dates by a particular person. It’s very handy.  But with Trump in particular, you can also search on the Trump Twitter Archive website, which has a handy search function.

There’s no need to just guess at whether a tweet you see is genuine–there are ways to do the research before you spread misinformation–or you can spread it as long as you make clear you know it’s fake and a joke.

bowers
https://twitter.com/BettyBowers/status/954827436847521794

This tweet is both unacceptable and unnecessary–or rather, it’s unnecessary that it be so wrong. The video shown is actually from the Women’s March in 2017, not from this year, but the tweet only hashtags #WomensMarch2018 and doesn’t mention that it’s an old video. This gives people who hate the Women’s Marches fuel to deny the crowds that did actually exist this year. All this tweet needed was a mention that the video was from last year and a link to any number of articles about all the marches this year. Or they could have just taken footage or photographs from this year to use instead. I was there in NYC yesterday. There were plenty of people getting photos of the massive crowd. The march was so big that we crawled along shoulder-to-shoulder with masses of people. One photo of that would have been impressive enough.Here’s one I took:

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Obviously I didn’t get a bird’s eye view but there were other photos of that event that did.  A quick google search found me plenty of articles and images, like this one. there were people as far as the eye could see and most of the time there was little room to even let my sign down for a minute so I could get something out of my backpack. It was crazy packed.

So why use last year’s video? I just don’t get it. I don’t know if they were just lazy or just thought that video was so impressive it should be used again.

How did I know it was last year’s video? Easy. It looked really familiar, so I wondered if it might be a video I’d seen before. So, I clicked on the source (which was at least provided) and then on the media from that source, and sure enough that video was posted a year ago. I do give the Mrs. Betty Bowers account credit for linking to the source, so that anyone who checks will know it’s not from this year, but I know most people will not check, so they should have mentioned that the video was old or just used new footage.

I know people will roll their eyes at my fastidiousness, but we need to hold higher standards and not just blindly share false information or information that is old but implied to be new. Yes, I do think this is important. Getting your information right is important in this political climate and with so many disregarding truth altogether.

Where do so many crazy conspiracy theories and nonsense stories originate on the internet? Click here for a good article on Sophos about the sources for a lot of insanity that seeps into social media and the rest of the web from weird fringe communities. You may not ever tiptoe into those corners of the internet, but their creepy conspiracy theories may affect you anyway. Hat tip to my friend James Hofsiss for sending me this link.

There’s more than just fake news out there, there are also Twitter bots and fake product reviews. I have a couple links to help with both of these.

First, if you see a suspicious Twitter account (suspicious maybe because all it does is post weird political memes 24/7, for example), you can check it at Botometer. It can tell you how probable it is that a particular account is a bot rather than a fellow human. It can also check followers (of your own or another account) to see which might be more likely to be bots. I don’t know how practical it is for large-scale bot-detecting, but it’s a fun little tool if you see an account you think might be fake.

Another handy website is Fakespot. Fakespot can tell you how reliable the reviews for a particular product is. It covers Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the Apple App store. So, for instance, if you are searching for bluetooth headphones on Amazon, you might, like me, sort the results by the highest rating. Then the top of the list is a brand you’ve never heard of, so you can plug it into Fakespot and find out if those reviews are really reliable. If it looks like the assessment below, then you know you probably need to keep looking:

fakespot

I’ve noticed that electronics (especially those with brand names I’ve never heard in my life) are especially notorious for fake reviews.

If you see results more like this, though, you know the reviews are more legit:

fakespot2

To learn more about how it works, check out their About Us page.

 

It’s truly disgusting that people will make up hoaxes on the heels of a horrible tragedy, but it happens.  Here’s one link from BuzzFeed with many hoaxes that already popped up in the wake of yesterday’s shooting in Las Vegas. You can see from this list (if you can bear to look at it) that these lies can be dangerous–people yesterday were accusing innocent people of being the shooter. Angry vigilantes might not see the correction soon enough and go after someone completely innocent.

And here is a link with info about Las Vegas shooting hoaxes and how to avoid spreading misinformation like this yourself (with tips much like what I’ve shared–no matter the source of information, the ways to check are the same).

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, but experts are doubtful (and ISIS has made false claims before–big surprise–murderers also lie)  so I’m skeptical of this claim until we learn more. I’ve seen that it’s very possibly a false claim from multiple reliable sources.

Finally, here’s an excellent article on how to spot lies on social media after a mass shooting. Do a very little homework and you can avoid adding to the spread of lies.

Always check your sources–random Twitter accounts are not good sources. Many sites that claim to be news sources are not good sources. Check MediaBiasFactCheck.com for some help with discerning what are good sources or you can do like some of my friends do and ask me about a story you’re not sure about–if I have time I’ll help check. I’m lainiefig on Twitter. Please let friends know if they are spreading misinformation. It’s obvious Facebook and Twitter can’t catch it all.

Do you ever wonder why I get so passionate about fake news stories, false memes, bad science, and myths? Sometimes I hear statements like, “Well, it definitely could be true.” Or “Even if it’s not true it’s a good story.”  NOPE.  First of all, truth matters. Facts matter. I find it upsetting to see people spreading false stories either from the right or the left. Of course, I have a bias, but I will fact check anyone, even if they might share my general bias (my friends can attest to this).

Second of all, fake news can have horrible consequences. There’s a story about that in today’s The Daily podcast, which is produced by the New York Times. It’s a fascinating and disturbing story of one fake news story and its awful consequences. It is important to check your sources and be careful what information you spread. This story shows why. Click here for the story from The Daily.

Another problem on the internet (and beyond) is the existence of so-called think tanks and research organizations that don’t do actual bonafide and tested research or follow the scientific method, but instead arrange “evidence” that backs up the ideas they want to promote. Then politicians, unethical journalists, and others use their work to prop up their own ideas.

Here’s a good article from Wired about this.

One organization I’ve seen lately is the American College of Pediatricians–not to be confused with the legit American Academy of Pediatrics, which props up ideas for anti-LGBT  groups. Here’s an article from Psychology Today about them and another from Patheos.  They are extensively cited by groups listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They should not be confused with the AAP if you see them mentioned online.

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  1. Amara Organics doesn’t sound like a site for a big TV scoop.
  2. It’s both a sponsored post and has a sensationalist headline.
  3. You can do a news search for Lena Headey and see no news like this from any other source.
  4. All of the above.

 

Yep, it’s #4. I didn’t bother giving them a click and my bullshit radar was pinging like crazy at first glance. Yet, they have over 1,600 reactions, 107 shares, and many, many comments (some of which also proclaim it as B.S., at least). There are probably even more by now–I took this screenshot this around noon.

Sure, it’s not that important, but just goes to show how easily a clickbait fake news headline will spread. It’s effective and that’s why even some marketers are using the technique (although I hope it backfires and people are irritated like I am–I will never knowingly buy from this company after seeing this). If they will lie about this, I couldn’t trust anything they claim about their products.

Fork lightning striking down during summer storm
This info is late for those who were affected by Harvey and now Irma, but there are already more hurricanes in the Atlantic, so here are some myths about preparing for hurricanes and info from FEMA.

Here’s an article from the Miami Herald about a few myths. I totally remember the window taping and cracking windows from my time living in Houston. Also, I lived here in New York state during Irene and Sandy, and while we had flashlights, we also used plenty of candles–not the safest choice in a house with kids.

Here is more info from the Tampa Bay Times. I have seen a meme going around a lot about storing valuables in the dishwasher because it’s waterproof–think again. It’s only waterproof from the spray inside–not from forceful waters coming from outside.

And here’s a really important link from FEMA addressing a number of rumors and scams related to disasters. Please share this link widely–much better than sharing random internet rumors and anonymous memes.

Here is an amazing PDF of guidelines for how to evaluate information using the CRAAP test.

Currency: The timeliness of the information
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
Authority: The source of the information
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content
Purpose: The reason the information exists

You can click the link at the top for more explanation, of course. You can also watch a video here:


Credit to Raritan Valley Community College’s Evelyn S. Field Library.