Viscious Cycle: Reposted Fake News Perpetuates Problems


Rachel Belous

Bixby High librarian Heidi Jenkins peruses the recent nonfiction book Bunk.

Rachel Belous, Reporter

According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, fake news is more likely than truth to be posted or reposted on Twitter. Consumers can learn how to spot this misinformation.

“People are confident in their ability to spot fake news, but they’re not good at it,” says Heidi Jenkins, Ph.D., Bixby High School’s librarian.

According to the research company Statistica, 69 percent of Americans have believed a false news story, only to realize it was untrue later.

Jenkins offers common sense suggestions on how to spot false information.

“Consider the source; what’s their bias? Research the author. Spreading of false information is usually done by repeat offenders,” she says. “Social media isn’t the problem, but people should look at multiple sources.”

Some websites are dedicated to spreading intentionally outrageous information, such as Business Standard News, which flat out says it’s “a satirical news page that parodies the 24-hour news cycle.”

Despite Business Standard News’ upfront statement about being satirical, its articles have been cited as legitimate. For instance, The Libertarian Republic magazine ran a Business Standard News article titled “Pat Buchanan Says America was Better When Races Knew Their Place” before issuing a correction.

“Corrections aren’t as sensationalized as the articles.” Jenkins says. “Sharing false articles is commonly done by people who want to seem ‘in the know.’ The sharer’s friends are more likely to believe it than fact check it.”

For example, the false claim that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election was still believed by 64 percent of Americans, even after corrections, according to Statistica.  

Facebook and Google are working to take away advertising revenue from sites that spread misinformation by removing their advertisements.