What is Fake News? Table Talk: Discussion Guide
What is Fake News? Table Talk: Discussion Guide
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This information is created by and presented with permission from ADL-Anti Defamation League

Table Talk: Family Conversations About Current Events provides parents and family members with the tools they need to engage their families in conversations about important news stories and other timely discussions about societal and world events. Each guide includes a topic summary, questions to start the conversation and dig deeper, ideas for taking action and additional resources.

This page is a preview of the resource to provide an overview of topic addressed. While intended for parents, these guides and the ideas in them can be modified to support meaningful discussions in school, youth group and synagogue settings.

Access entire "What Is Fake News?" resource including guiding questions, action ideas and more here.
Topic Summary

There has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news” because it has been prevalent during the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, a majority (62%) of Americans get their news from social media sites and 44% get their news from Facebook. In addition, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram news users are more likely to get their news online mostly “by chance,” while they are online doing other things A recent study revealed that many teens have difficulty analyzing the news; 82% of middle school students couldn’t tell the difference between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story. What is fake news? Fake news websites publish untrue or fake information in order to drive web traffic to the site. The goal is to mislead readers to believe the stories and to make money through advertising. Social media sites are used to spread the fake news. Fake news has been very present during the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign. The top Google news link for "final election results" was from a fake-news site called "70 News" which "reported" that Donald Trump had won both the electoral and popular vote. The Washington Post pointed out that it isn’t true. New web sites designed to trick and mislead people pop up every day.

Fake news creators make money in very similar ways to how traditional news companies make money—from advertisements. They have display advertising for which they receive a small portion (i.e. a few cents) for every person who visits that page. Their goal is to get the news to go viral (which is why they use social media) so a lot of people will visit; more social shares mean more page views which result in more money.

There are a variety of ways you can determine whether news is real or fake, including:

  • Consider the source.

  • Read beyond the headlines.

  • Triple check news sources.

  • Use a few reliable news sources regularly.

  • Check the author and the date.

  • Look for unusual URLs that can appear real or close to a legitimate news source, but aren’t.

  • Use fact-checking websites such as Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, The Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com.

  • Consider your own “confirmation bias.” (Confirmation bias leads people to trust information that confirms their beliefs and ignores information that doesn’t.)

  • Assess whether the news article is a joke since there is a great deal of satirical news out there.