3 to read: Virus vs Fake News | Twitter Misinformation | Data Viz on Instagram

  1. Fighting misinformation in a world where fake news can spread faster than the virus: The coronavirus essentially ticks off all of the boxes of a “how to virally spread information” checklist. It starts with the Chinese government failing to disclose accurate data on the number and spread of cases, which has led to an increase in racism against Chinese people, mainly because of the spread of misinformation. Many news sites are writing “debunking articles,” where they take widespread “information” and prove it is false. In this article, Erwin Lemuel Olivia lists some of the ways journalists can prevent misinformation from spreading when covering public health issues.

2. On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories: For many journalists using Twitter as a key source of news out in the field, fact-checking becomes ever more important in light of this recent study. Peter Dizikes for MIT News Office writes about three scholars from MIT who found that misinformation spreads virally much faster than real or accurate news does. What’s even more scary, they found that the source of the spread is not bots as many assume but due to people retweeting inaccurate information. With a lot of floating and confusing information, for example from the recent Iowa caucuses, journalists should be careful with what they see on Twitter as it may just be inaccurate information flowing from the retweeting of people. 

3. Charting new territory with young news consumers: It’s long been known that young people consume much of their news through social media. That could be bad for newsrooms. Or, for The Economist, a way to reach a new audience. Helen Atkinson, a visual data journalist at The Economist, lists tips for developing charts that are both visually appealing and captivating, as well as informative and accurate. Using Instagram, these charts create an interactive platform for news.

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Matt Carroll is a journalism professor at Northeastern University.

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