GSAN: NPR leaves Twitter | Clinton deepfake | Dominion v. Fox


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NPR leaves Twitter | Clinton deepfake | Dominion v. Fox


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The NPR logo on a smartphone screen rests above a black keyboard with backlit keys and white earbuds.
NPR and PBS no longer update their Twitter accounts due to misleading labels. (Image credit: Ralf Liebhold/

NPR became the first major news organization to stop updating its Twitter accounts, a decision that was announced on April 12 after it was labeled “state affiliated media” and later “government-funded media” on the platform. NPR says the labels are inaccurate because it maintains editorial independence from all funding sources, most of which are individual donors and grants. NPR CEO John Lansing said leaving the platform protects the news organization’s credibility and noted that “all journalism has revenue of some sort.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the Twitter labels and pointed out the risks such labels pose to “journalists reporting from areas where suggestions of government affiliation have negative connotations.”

As the number of full-time statehouse reporters has declined, student reporters from university-led programs are filling the gap. About 250 statehouse student reporters produced more than 1,000 stories in 2022. Students covering state government news have produced impactful journalism. In Montana, the governor announced a $2.1 million mental health screening initiative after a student reporter’s story on the subject got picked up by several news outlets in the state. Students account for more than 10% of statehouse reporters in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.

Local journalists covering mass shootings in their community are becoming more openly emotional in their broadcasts. After five people were fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky, last week, one local reporter held hands with a shooting survivor on air and offered her phone to the person. Another reporter told viewers she knew people injured in the shooting — a major difference from national reports that generally have more distance from the scene. Although reporters typically work not to make themselves part of the story, local journalists who live and work in a community where a mass shooting takes place sometimes tear up on air or even recall their own experiences as mass shooting survivors, expressing empathy, anger and frustration.

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Hillary Clinton did not endorse Ron DeSantis for president

A tweet reads, “You can tell a lot about a candidate by what opposition party leaders say about them…” and features a video supposedly showing Hillary Clinton endorsing Ron DeSantis. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “DIGITALLY ALTERED.”

NO: This is not an authentic video of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsing Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for president. YES: This video is an algorithmically generated deepfake video based on genuine footage of a December 2021 NBC News interview with Clinton. YES: The video’s creator is listed as “Ramble Rants” and the words “Hail Hydra” — a reference to Marvel Comics superhero Captain America — appear at the end of the clip, both of which are clues that this is satire and not real.

NewsLit takeaway: This video plays into the guilt by association fallacy — when a person or group is demonized due to a seeming connection with an already demonized person or group. In this case, the video creates a fictional scenario in which DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate and challenger to former President Donald Trump, is endorsed by Clinton, a regular target of Trump and other conservatives.

As AI technology advances and becomes increasingly capable of creating realistic content, social media users need to exercise skepticism when scrolling through their feeds. Remember, when encountering sensational claims online, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second source that can add context to the content.


LeBron video digitally edited to create blatant travel violation

A tweet reads “That time LeBron didn’t travel” and features a video that appears to show the NBA superstar running down the court without dribbling. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “DIGITALLY DELETED DRIBBLE.”

NO: This is not an authentic video clip of NBA superstar LeBron James bringing the ball up the court and driving to the basket without dribbling. YES: This video was created by altering a video of James scoring — and dribbling — on a fast break against the Toronto Raptors on March 14, 2019.

NewsLit takeaway: The belief that modern NBA players brazenly travel and that referees frequently allow the league’s biggest stars to get away with the worst of these violations is fairly widespread. These preconceived beliefs no doubt helped provide an air of authenticity to this eight-second clip appearing to show James moving from half-court to the rim without the ball ever touching the floor. This subtle but convincing edit racked up more than 1.8 million views.

Confirmation bias, or the tendency to look for evidence that supports one’s preconceived opinions, can easily dupe people as they mindlessly scroll and react on social media. This viral clip underscores the need to slow down and think critically, even when dealing with posts about sports.

Is that a fact? New podcast season. Are chatbots the future of journalism? Find out in episode 2.
A landmark defamation trial, Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network, is set to begin this week (unless a settlement is reached). The trial will determine whether the 2020 election misinformation aired by Fox News meets the “actual malice” standard that would mean it is not protected by the First Amendment.
Viral videos about Arizona’s midterm election last year that gained “narrative power through uncoordinated production” helped spread election denialism, according to a UC Network for Human Rights and Digital Fact-Finding report.
Health misinformation online has contributed to lower life expectancy in the U.S., according to the FDA commissioner, who called for better regulation of misinformation by government agencies.
Should the government regulate social media platforms for extremist content, like hate speech? The CEO of Reddit, the sixth-most popular website in the U.S., doesn’t think so.
Imagine out-of-town visitors flocking to your local graveyard to pay respect to children they believed were part of a satanic pedophile ring involving public officials. That’s what happened at a small Dutch town when a QAnon-inspired conspiracy theory took root.
A nonprofit news outlet in Philadelphia is training members of the public to attend and report on local government meetings, and an inspiring organization in Indonesia is teaching thousands of people how to debunk viral misinformation.
Would unplugging from social media make you happier? A few people who’ve done so, including teachers, share their experiences. One major upside? More time.
Although the speed and quality of AI-generated misinformation may be alarming, experts say fact-checkers are adapting. This 60 Minutes segment provides a good overview of AI chatbots — and even shows how Google’s Bard expands the famous six-word short story “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”
ICYMI: In case you missed it, the most-clicked story link in last week’s Get Smart About News was this BBC Science Focus piece about combating conspiracy theories.
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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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