GSAN: Fox’s Jan. 6 falsehoods | Social pressure and misinfo | ‘Woke’ definitions


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Fox's Jan. 6 falsehoods | Social pressure and misinfo | 'Woke' definitions


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A blue illustration of a person looking down at a glowing smartphone and isolated from a group of five people standing and socializing with one another.
Several factors play into why people share misinformation, “including the very basic desire to fit in and not to be excluded,” according to researcher Matthew Asher Lawson. (Illustration credit: Shutterstock)

Why do people share misinformation online? The answer is complex, but new research published by the American Psychological Association found that peer pressure and conformity are motivating factors. Researchers initially collected data on more than 50,000 pairs of Twitter users in the same social circles between August and December 2020 and found that users who did not conform and share the same fake stories as other group members faced social costs, including less social interaction with group members over time.

Public officials, U.S. Capitol Police and media experts are calling out Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson for spreading misinformation about the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by falsely portraying the attack as “mostly peaceful chaos.” Carlson recently released security footage of the attack — provided to him exclusively by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — and falsely told his viewers that Jan. 6 was “neither an insurrection nor deadly.” This sparked widespread pushback that the cherry-picked clips failed “to provide context about the chaos and violence” of the day’s events, according to a memo by Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger.

An all-woman panel aired in Afghanistan on TOLOnews to mark International Women's Day on March 8 — a rarity since more than 75% of Afghan women journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban returned to power in the country in 2021. In the broadcast, the panelists discussed girls’ education and women’s right to work.

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‘15-minute cities’ do not limit where people can go outside their homes

A meme reads “100 councils in the UK have silently signed up to trial the 15 minute cities / neighbourhoods (FKA ‘Ghost Cities’) which means that those who comply aren’t allowed to go more than 15 minutes away from their homes…” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “FALSE: CONSPIRATORIAL CLAIM.”

YES: The “15-minute city” is an urban planning concept that aims to place most essential services — such as grocery stores, workplaces, restaurants, entertainment, healthcare and public transportation — within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from residents’ homes. NO: There is no conspiracy to use 15-minute city design to limit people’s freedom of movement. NO: Residents in Ottawa, Canada, and Oxford, England, where 15-minute city planning principles have been adopted, are not restricted from traveling more than 15 minutes from their homes.

NewsLit takeaway: Conspiracy theories often flourish because they tap into social anxieties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, government actions encouraging face masks and COVID-19 vaccinations led to conspiratorial and false claims that the pandemic had been planned in order to restrict people’s freedoms, a common trope among conspiracy theorists.

When the concept of the 15-minute city began gaining more interest following the pandemic and into 2023, with coverage in national publications, online trolls were quick to latch their conspiratorial claims of government overreach onto this reality. They created a new viral conversation with baseless claims that governments were imposing restrictions on where people could travel outside their homes. Remember, conspiracy theorists catastrophize trending topics by making exaggerated and untrue claims. Sticking to standards-based news outlets helps avoid conspiratorial rabbit holes.

Related: “How the dream of 15-minute cities was twisted into a nightmare” (Alex Boyd, The Toronto Star).


No, Adam Silver didn’t call Ja Morant ‘thuggish’ at press conference

A TikTok video carries the text “BREAKING: NBA indefinitely suspends Ja Morant” and features footage supposedly showing NBA commissioner Adam Silver at a press conference. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “ALTERED AUDIO.”

NO: This video of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calling NBA player Ja Morant’s behavior “thuggish” and announcing his indefinite suspension is not genuine. YES: This viral clip was made by adding fabricated audio to authentic footage of Silver at a February press conference for the NBA All-Star Game. YES: The Memphis Grizzlies suspended Morant after the incident and the NBA announced that it was investigating the matter. YES: This video originated with a satirical account.

NewsLit takeaway: The increasing availability of AI voice simulators has led to a rise in misleading video clips featuring altered audio. Sometimes these clips are intended to spread political disinformation, such as this doctored clip of a crowd heckling President Joe Biden or this piece of manipulated media featuring a crowd laughing at former President Donald Trump. Other times, they are for satirical purposes, as may be the case with this Silver video. Whatever the intention, these videos can be quite convincing to those inattentively scrolling through social media.

Viewers should always be wary of sensational content, especially posts that connect to trending news stories, and double-check claims circulating on social media. Opening up a new tab and performing a quick web search can help authenticate or debunk videos like these.

Generative AI tools are aplenty. There’s DALL-E for images, ChatGPT for texts and RadioGPT for… radio? Launched by media company Futuri, RadioGPT generates scripts and uses AI-generated on-air personalities to deliver broadcasts.
Worried about ChatGPT? These educators say there’s no need to fear the text-generating artificial intelligence tool — and suggest incorporating it into media literacy lessons instead.
A BBC investigation found that hundreds of previously banned Twitter accounts have been spreading hate speech and misinformation since being reinstated under billionaire Elon Musk’s ownership of the platform.
Seven news organizations in Sacramento, California, are working in a collaborative called Solving Sacramento, which has published more than 80 stories covering affordable housing and homelessness since it launched last year.
How would you define “woke”? Turns out the politically charged word has multiple definitions, depending on the context, and one poll found that a majority of Americans view the word positively.
A majority of millennials and members of Generation Z pay for or donate to news, although they are most likely to pay for newer media formats like email newsletters and audio or video content from independent creators (47%) than traditional news sources like newspapers (22%), according to an illuminating new report by the Media Insight Project.
ICYMI: ICYMI: In case you missed it, the most clicked story link in last week’s issue of Get Smart About News was the first syndicated AI-generated political cartoon.
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Your weekly issue of Get Smart About News is created by Susan Minichiello (@susanmini), Dan Evon (@danieljevon), Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Hannah Covington (@HannahCov) and Pamela Brunskill (@PamelaBrunskill). It is edited by Mary Kane (@marykkane) and Lourdes Venard (@lourdesvenard).

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