December 2016 Editorial Winner

'Fake News' may be entertaining but it's also dangerous
Kim Benedict, The Ardmoreite

Why haven’t you run the story on (insert subject), what are you covering up? It must be true, I read it on Facebook.”
If we had a dollar for every time a legitimate multi-media company gets this comment from a “concerned citizen” we could provide funding for a great many charitable causes.
Here’s the real scoop, not everything you read on the Internet is true.
And while most people know that, unfortunately, there are scammers and other unscrupulous people that post stories that look and sound like legitimate news stories. Their motives vary, but let’s just say they do not have high-minded objectives.
So when it’s important to know the truth, where do people go? Established multi-media companies that vie to be first online, but won’t rush the process if they can’t establish that the information is correct.
Our news staff at The Ardmoreite works to earn the “leading news source” moniker for southern Oklahoma, but we won’t print information that hasn’t been confirmed or that we know is false.
According to netnewscheck.com, Facebook executives are now kinda, sorta, planning to fight fake news.
The fake stories won’t be removed, but will be flagged as “disputed” by third-party fact-checkers, which will force them to appear lower down in people’s news feeds. Users can click to learn why and if they decide they want to share the story anyway, they can – but they’ll get another warning that it has been disputed.
Let’s face it, that’s not going to stop people from distributing provocative and incorrect stories. People don’t seem to be overly concerned about truth in the current environment as long as it’s entertaining to talk about.
The kicker that pushed Facebook to really look at the impact of the false news being circulated is the possibility that these stories and their perpetrators influenced public perceptions and could have swayed the U.S. presidential election.
However, Facebook is emphasizing that it’s only going after the most egregious fake news creators and sites. So that still leaves the information highway and its readers vulnerable to thousands of scammers.
What do you do? If you read a story that’s over the top, check a local news source or Google the subject to see if a legitimate national source has it on their site. If you can’t find it, it’s probably not true. Big stories are audience builders, legitimate news outlets aren’t going to ignore them.
There are a lot of positives to the amount of information we have access to, but like everything else you have to use some common sense in using it.
We appreciate our print and digital audiences and will continue to fight the good fight for timeliness, accuracy and diversity in our news coverage.
|There’s no “fake news” on our horizon.

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