Last November, just after the election of Donald Trump, investigative journalists unearthed three astonishing facts about the spread of fake news — facts that the rest of us had not seen coming and had no reason to suspect. In the last month before Election Day, the engagement (shares, reactions and comments) of fake news stories on Facebook exceeded the engagement of real news written by mainstream news organizations. The media editor of BuzzFeed News, Craig Silverman, reported that the “20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.” This compares to the 7.3 million engagements earned by “the 20 best-performing (true) election stories from 19 major news websites.” Essentially, the fake “Pope-Endorses-Trump” story outperformed anything written by The Associated Press or The New York Times. UVA Professor Wyatt Andrews explores the sudden rise of fake news toward the end of the 2016 presidential campaign and how people who get news through social media can guard against falling victim to fake news. Andrews is the first professor of practice in the University of Virginia’s Department of Media Studies. Wyatt joined the faculty in 2016 after a 41-year career in television news, the last 34 years of which he spent working at CBS News.
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Author: Wyatt Andrews
Editors: Bob Gibson and Billie Easton
VOL. 93 NO. 2, NOVEMBER 2017 The Virginia News Letter (ISSN 0042-0271) is published by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4206 Copyright ©2017 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.
The views expressed are those of the author and not the official position of the Cooper Center or the University.
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