Misinformation, and increasingly disinformation, is distorting the public’s ability to make sense of the world around them, threatening the democratic process around the globe. While not a new phenomenon, the problem is compounded by both the speed that information travels in our networked world, and the technological and cultural “filter bubbles” that we live our lives in. This problem impacts everyone.” Jeanne Brooks, James Geary, Burt Herman, Jenny 8. Lee, Phillip Smith, and Claire Wardle

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#MisinfoCon is a community of people focused on the challenge of misinformation and what can be done to address it. The gathering seeks to strengthen the trustworthiness of information across the entire news ecosystem: journalism, platform, community, verification, fact checking and reader experience.

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“The context of having a parent, sibling or relative without documentation, or not being documented oneself, is a unique stressor that cannot solely be understood as generic stress or trauma. Families with members who are undocumented often “live in the shadows,” experiencing a lack of safety and fear of deportation. Because of their relationship with students and families, teachers, counselors, and other school personnel are often on the front line of dealing with mental health concerns as they arise, and should be well-informed about the challenges that immigration status issues may present.” Lisa M. Edwards and Jacki Black, Marquette University

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“Let me reiterate: White House is blacklisting outlets for printing the truth. This is chilling. Our bill of rights isn’t up for debate.” @RepBarbaraLee

“This is an undemocratic path that the administration is traveling … There is nothing to be gained from the White House restricting the public’s access to information.” Marty Baron, Executive Editor, Washington Post

The Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

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In a move of admirable self-criticism—one I feel sympathetic to as myself a card-carrying member of the American critical new media left—danah boyd asks “did media literacy backfire?”

“Addressing so-called fake news is going to require a lot more than labeling. It’s going to require a cultural change about how we make sense of information, whom we trust, and how we understand our own role in grappling with information. Quick and easy solutions may make the controversy go away, but they won’t address the underlying problems. What is Truth?”

boyd continues:

“The path forward is hazy. We need to enable people to hear different perspectives and make sense of a very complicated  —  and in many ways, overwhelming  —  information landscape. We cannot fall back on standard educational approaches because the societal context has shifted. We also cannot simply assume that information intermediaries can fix the problem for us, whether they be traditional news media or social media. We need to get creative and build the social infrastructure necessary for people to meaningfully and substantively engage across existing structural lines”

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In writing about fakeness itself as a foundational element of YouTube in 2009, I bemoaned the chilling effects of Barack Obama being heralded as the “YouTube President.”

Obama’s YouTube jam goes like this: the serious usually marks the funny, but in his version, get this: the serious is… the serious. Really. YouTube is all irony, all the time, and our YouTube President wittily plays it against itself. Sincerely folks, on YouTube, who came first, Tina Fey or Sarah Palin? I think you know the answer. On YouTube, what gets watched more: Obama’s fire-side chats, Obama GirlObama on Ellen, or Obama via Will.i.am? Yes, we can. Irony-free? “No, you can’t.”

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President Obama, speaking recently about Facebook’s fake news problem, continued along this perhaps too-open vein: “If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”

In 2009, as if in direct conversation with today’s tired President, and the dilemma that I had regretfully anticipated, I suggested:

that there are real perils for a visual culture (and the real it is or will be) where irony becomes so dominant as to be invisible. Irony, and the fake documentary that often packages it, has served long and well as a modernist distancing device, sometimes productively enabling a structure for radical critique. As YouTube makes this style omnipresent, however, its function changes, its edges soften, the firm ground of the resolute double deconstructs beneath our feet. We are in ironic free-fall. We plunge into a viewing posture of disbelief, uncertainty, and cynicism about everything on YouTube, about watching it, about believing.

Only seven years later, it appears that the ironic free-fall I claimed might result from over-enjoying our first YouTube/Google+ President has indeed contributed to the making of our even newer internet president, who recently broadcast his own executive remarks on YouTube. According to The New York Times:The video underscored the extent to which Mr. Trump intends to try to navigate around the traditional newspaper and television media outlets as he seeks to communicate his message to the public.”

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Practicing strategic contemplation—what Rosylyn Rhee explains as having “to be comfortable being uncomfortable [because] so much of making documentary films is embracing the unknown”—is one of six “principles of feminist filmmaking” represented in Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology for Rhetoric and Composition by Alexandra Hidalgo. The principles she elaborates point to one ethical media tradition that contemplates and thereby unmakes the frameworks that support fake news—truth/fiction, power and ownership within mediamaking and consumption—by engaging media logics outside of capital, including diversity, inter-dependence, mentorship, contemplation, and a primary commitment to social justice.

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Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Please feel free to use and share all or part of the CUNY J-School Research Center’s LibGuide for Reporters on Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News. Tabs include:

• Checklists and Lesson Plans to Help Identify Fake News (like TEN QUESTIONS FOR NEWS DETECTION, from the News Literacy Project)
• Fake News Sites
• Fake News Facts
• Pop Your Filter Bubble
• Tech Solutions to Fake News
• How Journalists Can Thwart Fake News

This fact-checking guide includes an Accuracy Checklist for Reporters and the Fake News portion of the guide includes a pdf of a long-form infographic Fake News Cheat Sheet, which can also be viewed in presentation format.