Fake News, Disinformation and Media Manipulation:
How to Defend Against Them

Flags on the grounds of the National Mall preceding Joe Biden's inauguration.

Getty Images, 2021

Welcome to the LSU Manship School's Resource Guide to Fake News

Fake news, or purposely false stories masquerading as news, has infected American information for years, and fueled rumors and conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination, terrorist attacks and lately, vaccines. What threat do fakes, frauds and hoaxes pose to our democracy? What role did they play in the pandemic or attacks on the Capitol or rumors about election fraud?

We cannot answer all those questions but this guide is a curated collection of the leading research, tips and news reports on fake news, deep fake videos and the threats posed to our nation's information flows and elections.


What Happened to the Deepfake Threat in the Election?

Lawmakers and researchers expected deepfakes to be a major threat to the 2020 presidential election, but this was not the case. Find out why in this article by Wired.

 



Newsguard LogoSee NewsGuard's Top 10 Disinformers and Top 10 Straight Shooters with the most online engagement. Where does your favorite news site fall?

 


 

Protestors on the National Mall on January 6th

Did social media play a role in the capitol insurrection on January 6th? Learn about social media's role in our lives and beliefs, with information from Netflix's hit documentary The Social Dilemma.

A cartoon of Donald Trump building a wall in front of the words "faith in democratic elections"

Trump and his allies continue to boost bogus conspiracy theories and far-right "news" sites in a bid to undermine the presidential election. President Trump and members of his campaign have advanced unfounded conspiracy theories claiming that Democrats rigged the 2020 Presidential election.


 

Coronavirus

Fake news and misinformation can flourish in times of great anxiety and uncertainty.

To learn about how misinformation and rumors can spread, please visit resources on rumors and misinformation.

To learn about coronavirus-related misinformation, visit COVID-19 page.

 Test Your Media Literacy Skills!

Can you go 6 for 6?

 Which social media platform currently is trying to maintain a hardline "free speech" approach regarding political content?

a. Twitter
b. Facebook
c. YouTube
d. Myspace

b. Facebook

"Zuckerberg has defended Facebook’s commitment to free expression, even as competitors take steps to address hate and disinformation on their platforms."


 

 

 Which governmental entities have passed (or are considering) media literacy education? Select all that apply.


a. The United Kingdom
b. Louisiana
c. California
d. Washington state

a, The UK, c. California & d. Washington

 In 2019, The United Kingdom’s cabinet secretaries announced that they would provide guidance for  teaching media literacy to their students. California passed a law which requires media literacy resources to be available to students. Washington state is considering a media literacy bill, and Massachusetts successfully passed a bill so students can better “access, analyze and evaluate all types of media,” according to Media Literacy Now.

 

 

Which platforms said they would take down coronavirus misinformation that is dangerous to public health?

a. Facebook
b. Twitter
c. YouTube
d. All of the Above

d. All of the Above

The public health risks associated with virus misinformation were so high that Google, Twitter and Facebook all announced that they would remove dangerous content about COVID-19, a move that showed their willingness to moderate at least some political content.

 

 What percentage of Americans believe that social media does more to spread lies and falsehoods?


a. 18%
b. 27%
c. 55%
d. 93%

 c. 55%

A 2019 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 55 percent of Americans believed social media does more to spread lies and falsehoods versus only 31 percent who said it does more to spread news and information. 

 There is evidence that bot accounts account for over half of the Twitter conversation on some political topics?

a. True

b. False

a. True

Wired reported that bot accounts can account for over-half of the conversation around specific political topics on Twitter, raising questions about the notion that Twitter dialogue reflects public opinion. 

 

 

Are social media companies technology companies or media companies?

a. Social Media companies
b. Media Companies
c. It’s Confusing!

c. It's Confusing!

Social media companies want to remain immune from legal consequences for user-generated content. They do not want to be treated like a newspaper. Section 230 of The 1996 Communications Decency Act shields third-party platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) from liability for user-generated content. Platforms, intent to keep the law unchanged, now face pressure from both political parties that want to change Section 230. 

 

 

Columbia Journalism Review: True Lies

The Disinformation Issue of the Columbia Journalism Review titled True Lies, contains numerous articles that provide in-depth insight into fake news and disinformation, as well as deepfakes.  


 

Are You Getting Faked Out?

Take the News Literacy Project's quiz on misinformation in the time of COVID-19, and see if you can tell fact from fiction. 

 

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