Stanford study: Students vulnerable to fake news
Facebook announced it was researching ways of letting users report fake news and, in effect, stopping its proliferation. However, this plan may backfire as a good portion of users can’t even tell the difference between legitimate and fake information.
A Stanford study with a sample of 7,804 middle school, high school and college students found that most of them were unable to identify fake news on their own, reports Engadget.
While the susceptibility varied with age, a good portion of even the older students still fell for fake reports. Nearly 40% of high school students didn’t question the link between a photo without a source and the claims that come with it, while over two thirds of middle school students did not even think twice about trusting a bank executive’s word about young adults needing financial help.
The study discovered that these students misjudged authenticity because they were focused merely on the appearance of legitimacy rather than the quality of information being delivered. Large photos or extensive detail was enough to make social media posts seem credible. While many adults also respond in the same manner, it appeared that students were far more vulnerable.
The best answer then is better education as explained in a report by Wall Street Journal. Students must be taught to verify sources, question motivations and think critically. It should be noted, too, that the data also point to the responsibilities of internet companies and parents to monitor and flag fake news. Alfred Bayle
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