Kids Can’t Tell Real from Fake News

82%

Of middle-schoolers failed to differentiate between news stories and “sponsored content,” according to a Stanford University study, reports Quartz. “According to the study, more than two-thirds of middle-school students failed to flag as biased a post written by a bank executive and arguing for young adults to pursue more financial-planning help. Likewise, some 40% of high-school students believed a photo and headline that suggested deformed daisies were evidence of toxic conditions near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The photo included no source or location tag.”

Four Princeton Students Solved Facebook’s Fake-News Problem in a Weekend

galleryThe editors of Pensito Review take for granted that our sophisticated readers know the difference between real and fake news, fact and fiction, honest commentary and nativist propaganda. But maybe you know a less-sophisticated soul who has fallen prey to the fake news in their Facebook feed.

Tell him about fIB: Let’s Stop Living a Lie. It’s a Google Chrome extension that scrapes fake news from your Facebook feed that was created by four Princeton students engaged in a weekend hackathon. The extension works in two ways:

Content-consumption: Our chrome-extension goes through your facebook feed in real time as you browse it and verifies the authenticity of posts. These posts can be status updates, images or links. Our backend AI checks the facts within these posts and verifies them using image recognition, keyword extraction, and source verification and a twitter search to verify if a screenshot of a twitter update posted is authentic. The posts then are visually tagged on the top right corner in accordance with their trust score. If a post is found to be false, the AI tries to find the truth and shows it to you.

[…]

Did Chatbots Influence the Election?

An automated army of pro-Donald Trump chatbots overwhelmed similar programs supporting Hillary Clinton five to one in the days leading up to the presidential election, according to a report published Thursday by researchers at Oxford University. … The chatbots — basic software programs with a bit of artificial intelligence and rudimentary communication skills — would send messages on Twitter based on a topic… Their purpose: to rant, confuse people on facts, or simply muddy discussions.

New York Times

Fake News Out-Performed Real News in Election Run-Up

8,711,000

Number of shares, reactions and comments generated on Facebook by 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs. “In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News and others,” a BuzzFeed News analysis found.

Fake News Writer Claims Responsibility for Trump Win

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it. … My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.

— From an interview in the Washington Post with Paul Horner, a guy who makes $120K a year writing fake news that gets shared on social media.