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News and Media: Fake news and social media

Social Media

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Social media refers to the websites and computer applications or media that allows users to communicate and share messages, information, opinions, beliefs, videos and images. 

Social networking is the activity of using a particular website, application or media  to connect and contact other people and share information.

You can keep in touch with other researchers and also to promote your own profile with social networks such as:

  • where you can follow research that interests you and a network to share your own research via the communities
  • JISCMail provides hundreds of email lists for researchers and staff to sign up to in order to share common interests and news

  • LinkedIn is a professional networking site - the world's largest professional network with nearly
    740 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide

  • Twitter is a microblogging and social media site which is useful if you want to share information to your network in 280 characters. It's main aim is to connect people and allow people to share their thoughts with a wider audience.

  • SlideShare where you can build your knowledge quickly from concise, well-presented content from top experts.

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Social media has undoubtedly offered increased connectivity and convenience. 

You can...

  • stay connected with family and friends worldwide via email, text, video, etc.
  • gain quick access to information and research
  • search and find online articles very quickly
  • online learning
  • communicate with the world
  • collaborate with others
  • take advantage of the multimedia platforms available to make effective videos, infographics and share presentations
  • keep in touch with other researchers and also to promote your own profile with social networks

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Social media is playing a large part in our daily life. 

It can...

  • be time-consuming
  • increased usage - on average a person will spend 145 minutes per day on social media (Source: Statista
  • allow false and fake information/images to spread quickly and easily
  • be difficult to judge what is reality and fake
  • reduce face-to-face interaction with others 

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Social media has a much darker side. With such a large amount of content being uploaded, commented on and shared, a lack of regulations and an inability on behalf of the social media company to moderate all content is all so evident - cyberbullying, trolling and harassment has dramatically increased online. 

Ensure you always protect your privacy and value your data. Check, review and update your privacy settings on each social media channel you use.  Think twice before you give permission to a third party. 

If you think that you have spotted a fake news online or notice malicious activity, most social media platforms have a feature to report posts and send feedback to their content moderators.

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Social Media and fake news

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Fake news does not just exist in news reports and attention grabbing headlines. Fake information can be disguised in images, videos and memes posted online - things we would not usually attribute to the term 'news'. 

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram enables news, stories and information to be shared among its users. Sharing could start in your close family and friends network. Fake news spreads quickly through a click of a button by sharing links on social media by individuals. Anyone can post a message. You share the story to your friends. They share to their friends and so on. Social media platforms make the ideal place for fake news to flourish and become viral and can be a vicious cycle.

What would be your answer to the following scenario? (Be honest!)

You receive a news story from your friend in your Facebook feed. What do you do?
a) like and share 
b) evaluate the story first and verify the content


If you said a)

  • Be aware! Content from trusted sources such as friends or family could carry false information, images, memes or screenshots. 

If you said b)
  • Well done! You have passed the test to always check your sources before re-posting.

Remember, if you plan to share, always check, evaluate and verify before posting.

Be aware before you share!



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Deepfakes are videos, images, or audio that are manipulated by software to produce media that appear to be real. Deepfakes makes it appear that real people are saying and doing things they didn’t say or do.

Here are top tips on how to recognise a deepfake video:

  • Consider the source - where is it from? Can you verify the source is reputable or from a trustworthy author?
  • Can you see a blurry area in the background of the video?
  • Can you see any flickering?
  • Look at the edge of the face - does it look right?
  • Look at the mouth - does it look blurry or do you notice unnatural facial expressions? 
  • Does the person blink at a normal rate?