Briefcase

Briefcase: Spotting Fake News

Guest: Professor Amanda Watson

The prevalence of social media results in lots of unsubstantiated news stories entering the public domain. Professor Amanda Watson, with the University of Houston Law Center, teaches legal research. She said it’s important to guard against false news.

“We’re all at risk when lies are presented as valid news,” Professor Watson said.  “In the last year alone, invented news items led to S.E.C. fraud charges against stock scammers, a D.C. restaurant owner barely escaping an armed vigilante attack, and false murder accusations aimed against an innocent man. False reports can affect our economy, our safety, and our understanding of right and wrong.”

Watson said there are ways to distinguish between truthful information and false news. “Check the source! Is it reliable? One you recognize and trust? Does the URL have an extra .co or a funny spelling? These are signs of an intentionally deceptive website,” Watson continued. “Look for identifying information that clearly defines the owner of the website. And remember, it is extremely unlikely that only one source is reporting a story. Check other trusted sources to confirm.”

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