How to Spot Fake News: A Resource Page

Nowadays, finding information on an almost limitless number of issues is as easy as opening a browser on your computer or phone, typing the question you want answered on the subject about which you want to learn, and waiting a second or two for a list of links to be displayed.  At this point it is up to the individual to determine which of the links contain accurate, verifiable information, and which contain misleading or outright false information.  Some of these determinations are easy.  However, it is not unusual for purveyors of false information to cleverly disguise their intentions and deceptive content.

Although it has always been a wise practice for consumers of news to approach the task with a degree of skepticism, the increase in the number of media outlets has made it necessary to find ways of determining the validity of the information obtained from the source.  That is, consumers must develop media literacy.

Given its vital role in serving the information needs of the Red Bank community, it is important for the Library to offer guidance to patrons about the evaluation of the information that they uncover while using its resources.  This annotated bibliography is intended for both young and adult patrons.  It is a one-stop source of information about the challenge of fake news, fact-checking sites, and material that will assist patrons to enhance their media literacy.  In each case, hyperlinks are included that allow the patron to open the referenced sites.

Part I: Definition of Terms

When people talk about fake news, they rely on a set of words that have become very important elements of the nation’s active vocabulary.  Several of these words have been judged by lexicographers to be the most important in the public discourse over the period of a year.

  1.  Disinformation - False information deliberately and often secretly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or hide the truth.  False information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.  It often serves to confuse, manipulate, brainwash, or gaslight.  This is fake news.

  2.  Fake News - The printing and dissemination of spurious (bogus) information.  Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead.  It is false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news. (American Dialect Society, 2017 word of the year)

  3.  Media Literacy - Media literacy is the ability to understand media text and evaluate media institutions, to create media of one’s own, and to understand and utilize the social and political influence of media in everyday life.  Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of media.  Media literacy is necessary to deal with the complicated, ever-changing world of electronic and print sources of information.

  4.  Misinformation - False or inaccurate information that is simply wrong regardless of whether it is intentional or accidental, a genuine mistake or criminal stupidity.

  5.  Post-Truth – Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.  In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire.  Provides a rationale for why fake news has taken such a hold on the public. (Oxford Dictionary, 2016 word of the year)

  6.  Published Information - Something created to communicate with the public.  The noun publication comes from the Latin word publicare, meaning “make public.”  To publish is to present copies or audio recordings to a group of people for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display.    

  7.  Truthiness – A sense that something seems or feels like it is true, even if it is not true.  Truthiness occurs when you prefer concepts or facts that you wish to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.  A wide range of motivations influence information seeking and information avoidance.  Truthiness is believing something to be true based on one's intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like.  There is a growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.

Part II: Articles on How to Spot Fake News

The items below represent only a tiny sample of the literature that has appeared to sound the alarm about fake news.  The sources, however, are among the most trustworthy with respect to providing reliable information to the public.

  1. Ideas for E.L.L.s: Finding Reliable Sources in a World of ‘Fake News’

    New York Times, January 26, 2017.  Teaching tips that train students to recognize fake news.

  2. Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts

    National Public Radio, December 5, 2016.  Transcript of an NPR broadcast that describes six best practices that people can use when reading articles online.  Brief, interesting read!

  3. Poynter Institute

    The mission statement of the Poynter Institute declares that it “is a global leader in journalism as the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st Century democracies.”

    1. The International Fact-Checking Network

      The International Fact-Checking Network promotes excellence in fact-checking.  The code of five principles were written to be used by organizations that regularly publish nonpartisan reports on the accuracy of statements made by public figures, major institutions, and other widely circulated claims of interest to society.

    2. PunditFact

      PunditFact is the fact-checking department of the Tampa Bay Times that examines the accuracy of articles written by newspaper columnists and statements of television commentators. The link contains a broadcast held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that offers an in-depth look at the impact of PunditFact's work and how the fact-checking of experts can improve, expand, and further help ensure an informed electorate.

  4. How to Spot Fake News, November 18, 2016.  Eight principles that can be used to determine the legitimacy of a published source of information.  The description of each principle includes an example of fake news that was revealed because it violated the principle.  A very nicely written, informative article.

  5. What Advertising History Says About the Future of Fake News

    New York Times, May 27, 2018. Production and propagation of fake news is experiencing a sea change with the development of more sophisticated technology. However, the long-term effect of fake news may resemble that of new, targeted, deceptive advertisements which may, over time, become less influential among the members of their besieged audiences. “For now, it’s the best hope we have.”

  6. Made in U.S.: Untruths Infest Social Websites

    New York Times, 
    October 12, 2018.  While the dissemination of political disinformation by foreign agents has been the primary focus of attention, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are also concerned about domestic sources of false political news.  The companies have removed hundreds of both right-wing and left-wing webpages, although this practice often blurs the lines between free speech and disinformation.

  7. The Poison on Facebook and Twitter Is Still Spreading

    New York Times, 
    October 19, 2018.  Journalists, academic researchers, and self-taught vigilantes have become the unpaid content monitors of social media misinformation.  After scouring social media platforms, their findings concerning networks of misinformation prompting — or sometimes, fail to prompt — removal of the propaganda.  While such socially responsible voluntarism is commendable, social media has the responsibility to address misinformation as a systemic problem, instead of reacting to case after case.

8. Veterans of the News Business are Now Fighting Fakes

New York Times, January 15, 2019.  Instead of trying to evaluate the truthfulness of the endless stream of articles that appear on Internet websites, a new service, free to readers, rates news operations when a reader lands on its site.  NewsGuard uses journalism to fight unreliable news. Trained analysts research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trustworthy--and which ones aren't. Green-Red ratings are used to signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda, giving readers more context about their news online.  For example, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have received NewsGuard’s stamp of approval, whereas Breitbart, Infowars, and Daily Kos are less reliable sites.

Part III: Fact-Checking Websites

The amount of misinformation that is spread regarding politics, government policies, religion, and a variety of hoaxes and scams is enormous. A number of websites have taken up the task of identifying rumors by presenting evidence and hard facts. As a background for using fact-checking sites, it is recommended that you read “About the Fact Checker” to understand the purposes, methods, and output of the Washington Post’s efforts to assess the truth of political statements. Below are introductions to four of the commonly acknowledged best sites that help you distinguish between the truth and falsehoods.


    A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that examines the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players.  Topics for fact checking are selected by the staff.  There is a useful ‘Search’ link that allows users to find information about topics of interest to them. Importantly, the “Ask a Question’ link permits the user to submit a question about the truth of a claim and/or a question about a scientific matter.


    This is a fact-checking site that is very popular among numerous news media.   It was created to deny or confirm widely spread current stories or myths.  Snopes also investigates Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of unknown or uncertain bases.  Although fact-checking in general is often accused by critics as the product of a left-wing conspiracy, research has shown Snopes coverage to be free of bias.  “Search for Keywords or URLs” brings you to a list of news items about the topic that you are searching (e.g., President of the United States). 

    See New York Times, December 26, 2016, Pp. B1, B4. Bigger Fact Checking Role for Snopes Brings More Attacks.


    USAFacts provides factual portraits of the American population, government finances, and government’s impact on society. It claims to be a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic enterprise that has no political agenda or commercial motive.  Its findings rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources, and it partners with three academic institutions to help keep data accurate and unbiased.  It is not always easy to locate the specific data in which you are interested.

  4. PolitiFact

    PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials, candidates, leaders of political parties and political activists at all levels of government. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times.  The site uses a six-point rating scale, the Truth-o-meter, to indicate the relative accuracy of a statement (e.g., ‘True’ → ‘Pants on Fire’). The website’s staff selects the statements that are checked for accuracy.  One can request PolitiFact to check the accuracy of a statement of personal interest.

Part IV: Adult Instructional Material Dealing with Media Literacy

Rather than simply reading prepared text about fake news, the items below provide instructional video on the topic.  

  1. Post-Truth: Fake News and a New Era of Information Literacy

    This is an ALA Webinar that addresses the rise of fake news, particularly those information behaviors that maintain its spread.  There is a brief report on ways to identify fake news.  The material is presented in a formal academic style that probably is not suited to younger library users.  To watch the presentation, scroll down to “How to Register” and click on “Watch the recording” link.  The recording must be opened in the Adobe Connect Add-In (available to upload from the site).

  2. YouTube Tutorials for Evaluating Web Sites

    Short presentations on sets of standards for determining the believability of websites.

A) Evaluating Websites

B) Evaluating Web Pages

Part V: Sources for Media Literacy Instruction in Schools

One of the greatest challenges for educators nowadays is trying to influence the manner in which students use information obtained from their cell phones and computers.  These seemingly ever-present devices in the hands of young people not only distort the allocation of time they devote to necessary life activities, but they have a huge impact on what they believe to be legitimate information that can be used to satisfy academic assignments.  As a result, a number of organizations have created material specially designed to teach young people the importance of questioning the legitimacy of material they uncover on the web and the media literacy skills required to make sound judgments about it.

  1. American Society of News Editors

    Members of the American Society of News Editors are editors, producers, or directors in charge of journalistic organizations or departments, deans or faculty at university journalism departments. This website contains a collection of programs and efforts that were administered by ASNE’s Youth Journalism Initiative to help students learn why news matters and acquire the skills needed to succeed as 21st-century citizens.  Suggest that you open theSchool link and then explore the ‘NEWS & MEDIA LITERACY’ link.

  2. News Literacy Project

    The News Literacy Project (NLP) is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that receives financial support from several major foundations (e.g., Rockefeller Foundation) and that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age. NLP’s goal is for news literacy to be part of the American educational experience as an essential skill. Every student should have an appreciation of trustworthy journalism and the skills to be an active participant in a healthy democracy.

    1. Ten questions for Fake News Detection – Questions used to find out whether a piece of information is fake news.

    2. CheckologyTM  – This set of highly appealing digital lessons and educational resources is a promising way to learn about social media and digital citizenship. The platform features 10 core lessons that give students a foundation in news literacy, including a focus on the role of the First Amendment and watchdog journalism in a democracy, as well as the development of skills and ideas that help students determine how to know what to believe when presented with news and other information.  The “freemium” model gives educators basic access at no cost, allowing them to deliver the lessons in a one-to-many format.  

  3. Center for News Literacy

    Located at Stony Brook University, the Center teaches students how to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and believability of news reports and news sources.  The Center also is at work developing pioneering curriculum materials for high schools and the general public through the Digital Resource Center, funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.  Course materials which have been developed with substantial use in college classrooms may be examined by opening the link entitled “The 14 Lessons.”

  4. Mind Over Media

    This site offers a comprehensive approach to recognizing propaganda and responding to it appropriately.  Four propaganda techniques are defined: activate strong emotions; attack opponents; respond to audience needs and values; and, simplify information. The material is ideal for teachers in that it carefully structures the lessons by stating a rationale for the study of propaganda, identifying learning objectives, providing detailed lesson plans, and online teaching materials.  Teachers can create an account (no fee is required) in order to select and upload particular examples for closer examination. Teachers are invited to submit examples of propaganda.

Part VI: Articles Written for Students

  1. Fact Checking: How to Think Like a Journalist

    Science News for Students, September 21, 2017. An essay that instructs students to “question everything” and “figure out who to trust.” Contains a glossary (titled “Power Words) of terms associated with STEM subjects.

  2. In an Era of Fake News, Students Must Act Like Journalists

    Science News for Students, September 22, 2017. Contains teaching tips and tools, and media literacy resources.

  3. Learning to Spot Fake News: Start With a Gut Check

    NPREd, October 31, 2017. Describes educational initiative to be implemented at ten universities intended to teach students to fact-check “statements of all stripes.”  Excellent collection of recommendations to improve one’s media literacy.

  4. Oakland Public Library

    This site provides a worksheet that is useful for determining the legitimacy of a Website. Evaluating News: Good, Bad, Totally Fake? contains sets of questions that address the validity of the information on a Website and assess whether bias is present in the reporting.  A useful tool for a student that intends to use the information on a particular Website as the centerpiece of a school assignment.

  5. Smart Internet Surfing: Evaluating Websites and Advertising

    This is a fun, fascinating book that will educate and help young students (recommended for ages 8 – 12) learn about safe web searching. It provides a description of the internet and offers prescriptions for safely working with and evaluating sites. The back of the book contains an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. The book is available in the Red Bank Public Library’s Children’s room.

  6. How Lies Spread Online

    New York Times, March 11, 2018. Report of research indicating that for all categories of information, false stories on Twitter spread significantly farther, faster, and more broadly than did true ones.  Further, despite concerns about the role of web robots in spreading stories, human behavior contributed more to the differential spread of truth and falsity than bots did.

Part VII: University Library Sites Written for Students

Aside from the sites mentioned below, you are likely to find that the reference librarian at your college can point you to special material prepared at the school (e.g., courses dealing with media literacy offered at the library or by the communications department).

  1. Bowdoin College

    A student-focused research guide called “Fake or Fact.”  Busy Website containing many links to interesting facts, articles, and teaching points dealing with the prevalence and detection of fake news.

  2. California State University, Chico  

    In just 45 minutes, Tutorial for Information Power (TIP) will teach you how to think strategically about information and the processes of: Investigating a topic; Searching for information; Finding the information in the library; Evaluating the quality of information (the segment most closely aligned with media literacy); Using the information in papers, speeches, or projects. Begin the tutorial by selecting the investigating button.  Appropriate program for high school students.

  3. Indiana University East

    A nice visual guide containing information to assist identifying and avoiding fake news.  Make sure that you open the ‘Resources,’ ‘Let’s Check a Claim,’ and ‘Check Your Own Claim’ links on the home page.

Part VIII: How Likely Are You to Believe Fake News?

We like to think of ourselves as astute observers of the world around us and capable of recognizing reliable sources of information with which guide our lives.  However, research has demonstrated clearly that there are a number of personal characteristics that affect an individual’s ability to tell the difference between factual statements, whether spoken or written, and inaccurate assertions.  Below is a sampling of current research that identifies personal characteristics, some of which may pertain to you, that are related to this ability to make sound judgments about the validity of information.

  1. Researchers Examine When People Are More Susceptible to Fake News

    National Public Radio, July 18, 2017.  Simply being around other people seems to increase your propensity to believe in fake news.  You assume that the person who's with you is going to do the fact check.

  2. Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News

    Scientific American, February 6, 2018.  Research on cognitive aging suggests that older adults may be especially vulnerable to fake news.  On the other hand, more educated people may develop meta-cognitive skills—strategies for monitoring and regulating one’s own thinking—that can be used to combat the effects of misinformation.  Finally, when a claim is made to feel familiar through repetition, people tend to neglect their own knowledge base in rating the claim’s truthfulness.  

  3. Why We (Often) Believe Fake News

    Psychology Today, March 31, 2017. People tend to perceive themselves as objective perceivers and thinkers with respect to both the social and physical worlds. So, when they hear or see something consistent with their beliefs, there is a tendency to believe it.  Further, even when people admit to using biased sources, they still think they reach unbiased, objective conclusions. In sum, people overestimate their ability to determine the legitimacy of the news source, think that information that aligns with their existing beliefs - even if it is fake - is more credible than information that does not. 

  4. Older People Shared Fake News on Facebook More Than Others

    New York Times, January 11, 2019.  Report of a study of 3,500 people whose social media behavior was tracked during the 2016 election.  The study, conducted by Princeton University, found that older users of Facebook were more likely than other age groups to share fake news.  Republicans and those who identified themselves as “very conservative” tended to share the most news from questionable sources. Importantly, only about 8.5 percent of Facebook users studied shared even one fake news link.

  5. Why Do People Fall for Fake News?

    New York Times, January 20, 2019.  A review of research in the field of cognitive psychology suggests that people are not inclined to think critically about the information that they encounter.  Importantly, however, there appears to be agreement among scientists that a little bit of reasoning goes a long way toward forming accurate beliefs. These findings suggest that the main factor in explaining the acceptance of fake news could be cognitive laziness, especially in the context of social media, where headlines and news items often are merely glanced at or skimmed.

  6. Some Real News About Fake News

    The Atlantic, June 7, 2019. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that political affiliation appears to be an important determinant about a person’s views concerning the seriousness and sources of fake news. Importantly, the emphasis on misinformation might actually run the risk of making people, especially conservatives, less well informed The Pew study suggests that fake-news panic, rather than driving people to abandon ideological outlets and the fringe, may actually be accelerating the process of polarization. It’s driving consumers to drop some outlets, to simply consume less information overall, and even to cut out social relationships. More than making people believe false things, the rise of fake news is making it harder for people to see the truth.

Part IX: International Concerns About Fake News

Fake news is not simply a problem affecting the United States.  Rather, it is recognized as a threat to democratic institutions worldwide.  The articles below are a sample of the responses of countries on different continents to the fact that important information sources are regularly contaminated by misinformation.  Interestingly, as of March 1, 2018, the U.S. had not launched a national initiative to deal with fake news. 

  1. In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

    New York Times, October 18, 2017. The Italian government, in cooperation with leading digital companies including Facebook, is set to begin training students in 8,000 high schools across the country how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online. 

  2. Brazil Looks to Crack Down on Fake News Ahead of Bitter Election

    New York Times, February 18, 2008. Brazil’s Federal Police established a task force to study the tactics used by groups that have been active in spreading fake news and determining which current laws could be used to prosecute them. 

  3. Germany Approves Bill Curbing Online Hate Crime, Fake News

    CNBC, April 6, 2017. Germany's Cabinet approved a new bill that punishes social networking sites if they fail to swiftly remove illegal content such as hate speech or defamatory fake news. Social networks need to ensure that obviously criminal content — as defined by German law — will be deleted within 24 hours and other illegal content after seven days.

  4. Fake News: How Can African Media Deal with the Problem?

    BBC News, February 16, 2017.  An interesting report that describes a variety of fake news stories that appeared in African media.  The steps taken by various news organizations (e.g., South Africa’s Eyewitness News website) to educate readers about fake news is also addressed.

  5. New National Security Unit Set Up to Tackle Fake News in UK

    The Guardian, January 23, 2018. Britain’s national security council will establish a unit dedicated to tackle fake news.  Defense of the country requires combating disinformation disseminated by state actors. 

  6. How Sweden Is Fighting Fake News

    Digiday, January 23, 2017.  In Sweden, it is common for people to subscribe directly to established sources of news.  Consequently, Swedes rely less on Facebook for news. Further, publishers contact people directly who have commented online about fake stories, and they have implemented ways to make real news more easily identifiable.

  7. Italy Braces for Fake News as Election Approaches

    New York Times, March 1, 2018. Article contains examples of how false information has spread in Europe recently, polarizing opinions about contentious topics like Muslim immigration.

  8. Facebook to Remove Misinformation that Leads to Violence

    New York Times, July 19, 2018. Responding to criticism about the way its platform has been used to spread hate speech and false information that prompted violence, Facebook has expanded its rules about removing false information.  Attacks on ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India were spawned by rumors spread on Facebook. The company has struggled to balance its belief in free speech with a moral obligation to counter misinformation carried by social media, particularly in countries where access to the internet is relatively new and there are limited mainstream news sources.

  9. In France, Students Are Asked to Think: Which Twitter Post Should You Trust?

    New York Times, December 14, 2018. France is coordinating one of the world’s largest national media and internet literacy efforts to teach students, starting as early as in middle school, how to spot junk information online. Since 2015, the French government has increased funding for courses about the downsides of the Internet world that are part of a novel experiment to work with journalists and educators to combat the spread of online misinformation. About 30,000 teachers and other educational professionals receive government training on the subject every year. In some places, the local authorities require young adults to complete an internet literacy course to receive welfare benefits, such as a monthly stipend.

Part X: Fake News About Race

Although the Internet is a great invention that has provided instant access to an almost endless supply of knowledge and entertainment, it is also a venue surfeited with misinformation that wittingly and/or unwittingly creates incorrect perceptions about the world.  One of the most abusive and unjust uses of the internet is the conscious dissemination of material intended to stoke tensions between racial groups. As is apparent in the selection of articles below, Russians and white supremacists have sought to exploit racial divisions in America through social media campaigns of disinformation.  Unfortunately, organizations such as Facebook have done little on their own to rid their platforms of this hate-mongering material. This inaction may well prompt the imposition of government regulation of social media sites.

  1. Ignorance About Race Is Killing Us

    Psychology Today, June 22, 2015. Agustín Fuentes, a Chaired professor of anthropology at Notre Dame University,  contends that every single assertion by racists about biology, behavior, and history can be easily refuted by even a small bit of discussion, investigation and education.  For example, different races are not separate biological subspecies, and blacks are not overrunning whites in the U.S.  Unfortunately, the author believes that although America has the capacity to be among the most informed nations on the planet, Americans remain willfully ignorant of the realities of our racialized history.

  2. White Supremacy Is the Achilles Heel of American Democracy

    The Atlantic, April 17, 2018.  In America, a country built from its foundations on white supremacy, where identity is forged in the crucible of a centuries-old “race question,” one of the easiest and most effective ways to “hack” those institutions is the use of racism in disinformation and propaganda campaigns. According to Vann R. Newkirk, II, a staff writer at The Atlantic who covers politics and policy, almost every single American era of widespread racial friction was buttressed by sophisticated psychological manipulation, data gathering, and propaganda, a concoction that when taken together, often helped push whites to the extremes of antidemocratic oppression and violence. Several historical eras are described that would see numerous slanders, hoax plots blamed on both African Americans and Native Americans, and regular rumors of slave rebellions invoked in a continual process of consolidating both property and power for white hegemony.

  3. ‘Axis Sally’ Brought Hot Jazz to the Nazi Propaganda Machine, September 25, 2018.  This fascinating account by Jackie Mansky, the assistant web editor, humanities, for Smithsonian magazine, tells of the rebirth of a Nazi disinformation campaign intended to sow discord among American troops during world War II.  The propaganda spread by the radio voice of ‘Axis Sally’ has been reintroduced by means of podcast host and founder of Northwest Front, American neo-Nazi Harold Covington. The article offers a biography of Mildred Gillars (Axis Sally) and a description of Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebels’ philosophy that “the best form of newspaper propaganda was not "propaganda" (i.e., editorials and exhortation), but slanted news which appeared to be straight” that played up the race, class and cultural divisions already manifest in the U.S.

  4. America's Racism Has Long Been Russia's Secret Weapon

    CNN, July 2, 2018. Peniel E. Joseph, a renowned scholar, teacher and a leading public voice on race issues, provides a chronicle of the manner in which Russia has propagandized about racism in America with the objectives of diverting attention from its own civil rights issues and sowing discord in the U.S.  Historically, Russian officials saw in America's unfolding racial crisis an opportunity to shield the Soviet Union from criticism of its own human rights violations, creeping authoritarianism, and barely concealed imperial ambitions. Russian attempts to utilize social media to discredit, manipulate, or derail the Black Lives Matter movement underscores the vulnerability of domestic social justice movements.

  5. The History of Russian Involvement in America's Race Wars

    The Atlantic, October 21, 2017.  Julia Joffe, a journalist who covers national security and foreign policy topics for The Atlantic and GQ, reports that the Internet Research Agency—a Russian “troll factory”— used social media and Google during the 2016 electoral campaign to deepen racial tensions in the U.S. Some of the Russian Facebook ads depicted protests in Ferguson and Baltimore after police killings of unarmed black men, while another pictured an armed black woman "dry firing" a rifle.  Although social media platforms are taking steps to remove such ads, Joffe concludes that Americans can stop blaming the Russians and look at ourselves for what we do to fan the flames—to a far greater extent than the Russians ever could or do.

  6. Most Russian Facebook Ads Sought to Divide Americans on Race

    Vox, May 13, 2018.  According to Emily Stewart, a business, finance, and political reporter, a new analysis of 3,500 ads published by House Intelligence Committee Democrats found most Russian-linked Facebook ads before and after the 2016 election were tied to race, crime, and policing. The goal was to stir up controversy and play on preexisting divisions and biases, often by launching simultaneous ads with divergent messages — one would encourage support for pro-police groups, and the other would mention how police treat black people.

  7. These Americans Were Tricked into Working For Russia

    BuzzFeed News, October 17, 2017.  According to investigative reporters Rosalind Adams and Hayes Brown, spoke to four people who organized black rights protests and taught self-defense classes after being contacted by Russian trolls pretending to be US activists.  The article focuses on BlackMattersUS, a group claiming to be a nonprofit news outlet that delivers raw and original information on the most urgent issues important to the African-American community in America, that is actually linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency.

  8. Russian Facebook Ads Showed a Black Woman Firing a Rifle, Amid Efforts to Stoke Racial Strife

    The Washington Post, October 2, 2017.  Adam Entous, Craig Timborg, and Elizabeth Dworkin, three reporters specializing in coverage of national security matters, described some of the more than 3,000 Facebook ads delivered to congressional investigators that the company says were bought by 470 accounts and pages controlled by a Russian troll farm.  Investigators believe the advertisement may have been designed to encourage African American militancy and, at the same time, to stoke fears within white communities. The aim is to subvert democracy for everyone by using anti-black stereotypes – an idea as old as America.

  9. Schools Must Equip Students to Navigate Alt-Right Websites that Push Fake News

    The Conversation, June 19, 2018.  Jennifer Rich, the Executive Director of Education for Genocide Watch, reports that a survey of 200 teachers employed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York revealed that more than 60 percent middle and high school students rely on alt-right internet sites as credible sources for their research papers.  Students find the information on these sites appealing, including stories dealing with racism, but are unable to differentiate between fact and fiction. It is suggested that students be taught how to critically examine the sites, six prominent of which are identified.

  10. How a Fake Group on Facebook Created Real Protests

    The New York Times, August 14, 2018.  Reporter Sheera Frenkel, who covers cybersecurity, describes how the website Black Elevation orchestrated a complex influence campaign focused on tight-knit activist groups that were persuaded to participate in real protest rallies.  Black Elevation was actually created to sow divisions among Americans ahead of the midterm elections. The bogus group became one of 32 pages taken down by Facebook, all of which were aimed at left-wing activists in the United States.