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Can You Identify Fake Facebook Pages?
Tutor
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8 Comments

Can You Identify Fake Facebook Pages?

A New York Times article asks readers to spot deceiving Facebook accounts based on posts. In the example below, which is from a fake page? 

FB posts.JPG

 

 

If you guessed the one on the right, you are correct. The best indicator, according to the article, is the poor word choice and grammar at the top of the post: "live" should be "leave," and "End of the story" is atypical English and should read "End of story." Particularly to identify Russian posts, look for missing or misused articles (a, an, the). 

 

FB Post 2.JPGBut some posters are getting more clever. In the example at right, we see that text is lifted from another source, so the writing style and grammar sound like native English. 

 

I just re-read 2017 Facebook guidelines about spotting fake news. Interestingly, the advice doesn't include looking carefully at grammar, proofreading, and punctuation. 

 

Cover image source.

 

 

 

 

Discussion:

  • In a way, aren't we giving into our biases if we assume that posts with poor grammar are from international sources that lack credibility?
  • How do you reconcile this approach to spotting fake news? How confident are you in spotting posts from credible sources? Under what circumstances have you been fooled in the past?
How to add text to your MindTap course

 

8 Comments
Contributor

I see family fooled all the time about fake giveaways on Facebook. You can tell when it states something like a free 7 day Disney Cruise, but the page differs slightly from the actually Disney Cruise page. I generally post that it is not true on their posts. Rarely does Disney offer free cruises to the general public just for being one of the 100 that shared it. I never considered bad grammar before, but now I will. Thanks for sharing! 

Frequent Commenter

Other questions that I think might be interesting: 

Do you judge people based on their grammar?

What constitutes an account as “fake”? What if a friend makes an account solely to promote their political agenda?

 

Commenter

We often analyze the validity of arguments in quantitative literacy classes. This would be a great example to use with students. 

My students are SO easily fooled!  We discuss this in DEPTH in our intro to computers class. It makes for a VERY engaging session!

Contributor

I believe we need more than incorrect grammar to spot fake news. A great opportunity for text recognition researchers :-)

Contributor
Yes, I often notice grammar issues that lead me to question the credibility. I try to research further, just allowing the grammar issues to be an alert to me that something may be amiss. I still don't feel fully confident in spotting fake posts, just being honest. I try to verify through multiple resources, rather than believing a single source.
Valued Contributor

Teaching students to spot grammar errors is a great first step! It's definitely important to help them learn to recognize errors and to think more critically about what those errors convey, especially related to bias and credibility in sources. This is a skill we cover in freshman composition classes. Thanks for sharing!

Tutor

Thanks for the great comments! This may be more than we need for our undergraduate writing courses, but this is a useful compilation of bogus sites and tips for spotting fake news