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Social media is a constant in day-to-day life and is often the first place news breaks. However, the likelihood of false information being spread across social media is high, and this can affect journalists trying to do their jobs, in both gathering information and trying to achieve balance. Reporters and news writers need to be able to quickly evaluate the legitimacy of social media sources for information, especially viral posts, lest they be accused of spreading “fake news.” This chapter examines how social media has disrupted traditional news reporting and caused media outlets to tackle the audience’s opinion of them as “fake news.” I then explain how posts go “viral,” particularly on Twitter, and what actually causes topics to trend on the platform. To close, there are practical methods students can use to evaluate and factcheck both Twitter accounts and individual tweets. Through the materials in this chapter, student news writers will be armed with the knowledge to evaluate social media posts for veracity, with a concluding learning activity that puts these skills into practice.


Association of College and Research Libraries

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University Libraries


Twitter, fake news, viral trends, social media, journalism, news writing


Information Literacy | Library and Information Science