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Spotting Fake News: Not As Easy as People Think

Fake news is pretty confusing

Most people think they are very good at identifying fake news. But a recent study suggests that users have a lot of trouble telling the difference between fact and fiction.

The participants of the study were fitted with a wireless EEG
(electroencephalography) headset that tracked their brain while they read political news headlines that were similar to those found on Facebook.

Surprisingly, participants were able to assess only 44% of the given political news accurately. According to the researchers, the participants confused some of the fake news as truth because it conformed to their pre-existing beliefs and biases.  When fake news confirmed their pre-existing beliefs, they tended to view it as true. The low accuracy rate in identifying fake news shows that most users are not good at evaluating the  credibility of news found on social media, like a Facebook news feed, for example.

Patricia Moravec, the study’s lead author, said that everyone believes that they are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that is simply not possible.

We are not as good as we think at detecting fake news

When it comes to detecting fake news, we are not as good as we think.

The research was done with the help of 80 social-media-proficient undergraduate students who were asked to answer at least 10 questions about their own political beliefs before taking part in the study.


Social Media: The Silver Platter for Identity Thieves

Why Not to Share Too Much about Kids on Social Media

It turns out that kids don’t like it when their parents share pictures or information about them on social media.  This is especially true for teens.  So say the reports of a recent poll taken by Microsoft.

While interesting, children’s preferences are not the main reason that parents should be careful with social media posts.  Security is.

Criminals and fraudsters look to many sources to collect information about potential victims. These sources include hacks of company databases (like Yahoo, Equifax, eBay), which yield sensitive information about their users.  They can involve low-tech methods like sifting through people’s mailboxes or trash for private information like social security number.

Serving Personal Information on a Silver Platter

In other cases, people hand over their personal information directly to criminals.  For example, a fake email can lead unsuspecting recipients to click or log in.  This could give thieves direct access to the victim’s computers or online accounts.

Social media is a shining example of handing information straight to criminals. People often overshare information on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  As a result, identity thieves can gather profiles on victims piece by piece.  One post might show a birthday.  Another might list all the members of the family. Another might mention a hometown or even an address. Slowly, enough of a profile comes together for a criminal to commit identity theft.

This is in addition to the dangers of predators who might use social media information to find victims.

Of course, safety is a significant reason for why parents should be very careful when posting about their children online. Extreme caution is a tool for parents to make sure they are not handing their own children’s private information to scammers or to others who would harm them.

Parents cannot control whether a major company gets hacked.  But they can take care not to hand over their own and their children’s personal information on a silver platter.