Special Commentary: Students need to learn to spot fake news

by Kia Mesri

Fake news is plaguing society — causing fallacies in knowledge and research. With technology and resources at our fingertips, it can be easy for students to believe incorrect information. Students need to learn how to recognize and combat fake news to ensure they produce quality work.

Fake news weaves into mainstream media. The first thing on Google may not always be accurate information. Websites and search engines are flooded with algorithms that tailor results to the user, which causes some fake news to pop up in search results. Search engines may be a good source of information, but the responsibility is on users to check if that information is correct. It is important that students do their part in ensuring the information used in research is correct, because websites and companies dont do that for them.

Fake news is relevant in our lives and it’s important to find ways to combat it. According to Michael A. Caulfield, author and researcher of web literacy, checking previous work, going upstream and reading laterally are the three basics of becoming a more cautious web user.  

There are steps that can help students make sure they use credible information

Check old work. Find the author of the article and find previous pieces they wrote. Then you can judge whether their work includes bias or opinions.

Go upstream. Check whether the source has information from other sources. If there are other sources, visit them and make sure they are credible. Someone can take facts from another source and skew them in their own writing.

Last, read laterally. Use a different website to fact check. Research the author or look up the organization.

Fake news is a part of media, but there are ways to combat it. If students use these strategies to become more web literate, they can ensure that the work they read and produce is reliable.

Kia Mesri is a sophomore studying finance.