Questions for ‘How to resist and counter today’s flood of fake news’

an illustration of a wave overwhelming people

Artists’ representation of a wave of misinformation that threatens to sweep over society and confuse people. Today, legions of researchers are coming up with ways for us to avoid drowning in that misinformation.

Brian Stauffer

To accompany “How to resist and counter today’s flood of fake news


Before Reading:

1.  During the past five years, people commonly flung around the charge that something was “fake news.” How would you define “fake news”? Give a real or invented example of something that might fit that term.

2.  If you ran across a story that seemed hard to believe, how would you go about figuring out if its facts were true?            

During Reading:

1.  “COVID has opened everyone’s eyes to the dangers of health misinformation,” says Briony Swire-Thompson. What did she mean by “dangers”?

2.  According to S. Shyam Sundar’s research, which medium could make a fake-news claim seem most credible (and therefore harder to recognize)?

3.  Sara Yeo describes how our minds often use mental shortcuts. Why do we do that, according to the story? What is the risk, according to her, of hearing news claims that are consistent with the values we hold?

4.  What is the idea of pre-bunking the news? How did Sander van der Linden test whether it works?

5.  Based on the story, how is fake news like a virus?  

6.  Research by Gordon Pennycook and David Rand showed that for some types of issues, lazy thinking, not political bias, can foster our acceptance of fake news. In what area of news and information claims did politics really drive our acceptance of issues, according to their research? 

7.  Why did Nadia Brashier and her colleagues argue that for debunking news, timing can be everything?

After Reading:

1.  Some people refer to fake news and misinformation interchangeably (suggesting they’re the same thing). They can be. But not always. Give one or more examples of how some stories may fit one of those terms but not the other.