Opinion Making on the Internet

How do fake news, social bots and filter bubbles influence our opinion?
Are you planning a workshop?
Here you can find the material to fill 25 minutes.

Please find the facilitator‘s guide for this 25-min workshop here.

Other versions of the workshop are 90 min and 45 min in length.

“Everyday life” in social media

In social media, many things are not what they seem. People often tend to change their photos, by using filters for instance, just to put themselves into proper perspective. Watch this video to see how everyday life and its representation in social media can be very different.

True news can also be distinguished linguistically from fake news. For example, fake news often has headlines that want to attract attention. They are worded in a lurid manner or deliberately lead the reader in the wrong direction. In fake news, provocative buzzwords such as “scandal” and “danger” are often used to attract attention. Mistakes in grammar and spelling are also characteristic for fake news: fake news reports often contain a particularly large number of these.

True news reports come from sites you can trust. They have for example, an imprint which states a specific address and a contact person or person responsible for the site. The author of the news is also stated. The author reports factually and incorporates different views in his news. A further indication for the trustworthiness of a news report is that other trustworthy pages or sites have also published the report.

The presentation of the content in true news is neutral and without exaggeration. To make sure that the readers get the content, it will not be decontextualized or presented in a biased manner. Instead, the author shows different views. He takes a sufficient number of understandable explanations into account and cites evidences and sources.

Fake news often use images that actually come from a completely different context. In many cases, these images have been manipulated, e. g. cut up or pieced together from several different parts. However, a simple image search on the Internet allows you to quickly find the original photos and compare them with the images used in the news.

Is it real or a fake?

Flamingo Harry – a knight in shining armor

Northern Germany. A miracle happened at a zoo in Lower Saxony: Tilmann, a ten-month-old baby, climbed out of his stroller unnoticed by his parents near the flamingo enclosure and plunged into the enclosure pond. Tilmann could only be saved by the rapid intervention of the brave flamingo Harry. Harry grabbed the baby with his beak and carried him back to land. “Without Harry, Tilmann would have drowned”, sobbed Mrs. M., Tilmann’s mother. “Harry’s reaction was simply amazing”, said the local zoo director, who is planning on rewarding his new feathered hero with an extra portion of fish.

You decide: Fact or fake?

Is it real or a fake?

Genetically modified glow-in-the-dark plant helps you save energy

Cambridge, USA. Researchers of the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology have recently succeeded in breeding the first genetically modified plant that glows in the dark. At the first glance, the crop that goes by the name “Starlight Avatar” seems like something that would grow on radioactive ground. However, the plant glows solely with the help of natural substances. This innovation could soon even replace common street lights and thus help advance an energy revolution.

You decide: Fact or fake?

The majority illusion

Social media can influence our opinions. Kristina Lerman from the University of Southern California proved this in a study. The red and white balls on the wooden board represent different opinions. The white balls represent the opinion of the majority. However, they do not communicate much with the other balls. The red balls do, though. They represent a rather rare opinion, but they communicate a lot. As a result, the white balls often come into contact with the red balls and thus, with their opinion. It appears to them as if the red balls’ opinion is the majority opinion. Experts refer to this as the so-called “majority illusion”. Lerman’s study also showed that the white balls often end up sharing the opinion of the red balls.

Form your own opinion!

Now you know, that news on the internet should be treated with caution. In this module among other things you became acquainted with criteria and tools to verify people and news.