Fake News?

  By Sarah Lawrence.

I’m sorry, who will star in Strictly Come Dancing 2017?!

The lineup for the Saturday night show is always one to spark interest and to be the subject of speculation before the official unveiling. However, from a trustworthy source, a rumour concerning the participation of someone who is very close and dear to the University and most importantly, the LiFTS Department has just been confirmed. Does the name Seeger ring any bells? We can now safely assume that one of the fifteen celebrities competing for the Glitterball Trophy in 2017 is our very own Dr Sean Seeger.

Let’s hope that his fondness for James Joyce is second to his fondness for sparkles and fake tan!

The rumour started to occur when he announced a rather abrupt sabbatical from the University of Essex: why else would he leave? Now it seems that he is planning to impress tutors of a different kind (personally I hope he is partnered with Oti Mabuse). Hopefully Craig Revel Horwood will be as proud of him as we are. 

Although we are not sure whom he will be competing against yet, we know he has our vote. More is set to be revealed in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled and be vigilant!

…and don’t forget: “keep dancing!”

If you are as confused as I am about who to trust, what is true and what is false, then welcome! I hope you are well, I am currently becoming a recluse and it is nice to meet you. 

Now, the main topic of this blog post, as opposed to the wistful idea of one of our own lecturers competing on the dance floor, is the current topic of ‘Fake News’ created by Donald Trump the President of the United States of America (America’s equivalent to Boris Johnson, but with power).

As much as I like social media, I have to admit that this new wave of ‘Fake News’ has definitely started to give me trust issues. For example: I am glad Donald Trump is really going to get ‘rid of ISIS’. I am disappointed Kanye West will not be appearing on Pointless Celebrities, but life moves on. Also, the little girl showing how far she can get shared on Facebook just so she can have a puppy is now older than she is and yet still popping up on my News Feed. Why? As we welcome 2017 and begin its fifth month let’s just play a quick game of True or False regarding headlines this year. Below I will list a few facts or headlines that might be true or made up by me:

1. ‘Parliament had to debate whether Donald Trump would be allowed to visit the U.K due to a petition created by the public.’

2. ‘U2’s Bono rescued during terror attack.

3. ‘La La Land won an Oscar for Best Picture.’

4. ‘Hilary Clinton in 2013 said she would like to see people like Donald Trump run for president.’

5. ‘Ireland is now officially accepting Trump refugees from America.’

If three of these look familiar, they are: they have been Fake News articles plaguing social media. Now that we have warmed up a little, it seems an opportune moment to circle back to the media’s damaged credibility for not checking facts. It seems that lately people have read posts they have found shocking or promising and have just run with them, thus making them go viral and adding greater credibility to them. For future reference, I can confirm that posts and profiles containing the words; ‘The Lad Bible’ and ‘Buzz Feed’ are probably not your friend. We share, post and comment on these ‘news’ articles and before you know it newspapers have declared something false in response.

Why is this? What has happened to sourcing information? Why are newspapers jumping on these posts just because they sound half convincing and are immediately ‘hot on the web’?

Please, if you are to take one thing from this blog post make it that social media is a powerful weapon. Do not underestimate that. My advice is to always source information –  if you can’t find any other posts about it I would think twice about spreading the news. It is always dangerous to assume that everything you read is true, especially on Facebook. Additionally, any post that says ‘students are now allowed to quote from Wikipedia’ is also Fake News and would not be recommended (but how amazing would that be?!).


GIF credit: oscars.org (sourced via giphy.com)