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Reality Check: Fake News Apps, how to be sure what you're sharing is real

There's no doubt the internet plays a major role in how quickly information spreads and changing technology means we can all get in on the act. Fake News apps are a way we can be tricked into believing, and then sharing.(Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Two simple words dominate the culture of modern media: "Fake News"

There's no doubt the internet plays a major role in how quickly information spreads and changing technology means we can all get in on the act.

Fake News apps are a way we can be tricked into believing, and then sharing.

It all took-off during the 2016 presidential campaign, but Buzzfeed's Craig Silverman was actually using the term "fake news" as far back as 2014.

"We find that a lot of this battle about what the truth is, is itself becoming the news,” says UNCA professor Dr. Mark West.

West specializes in mass media, politics and news writing, "Our minds have not caught up with the digital manipulation that we can all do."

Even the most basic posts on social media can be deceptive. Even worse, sharing them can be most troublesome especially when fake news apps come into play.

There are quite a few available, free of charge' like "Twitterino".

The apps all provide a blank slate, so the user can be anybody, claiming to know anything. Simply write whatever you want and share the fake tweet on the page to the public.

That post goes to all the account followers and can be interpreted as factual. The app does have a disclaimer attached, but it's easily overlooked.

"Whether you happen to be looking at something the president tweets, or something that the mayor of Asheville tweets, or whether it's something that Justin Beiber tweets, you know, and I say 'tweets', that it's them, who knows if it's them," says Paul Irvin.

Paul Irvin teaches American History and Civics at Nesbitt Discovery Academy in Asheville. He wants his students to learn critical thinking, how to spot what's false, and avoid a trap so many others fall into, "The research really is pretty clear on that, that people generally speaking don't take that extra step, they don't tend to vet the information, they don't tend to look at it more critically."

"The real threat is that it kind of is creating these fault lines within society, where everyone can believe what they choose to believe," says Dr. West.

That is how false images and information take on lives of own, but you can stop it.

Experts say, before you share, fact check using multiple sources, especially everything that seems off the wall or too good to be true. Best advice: be sure, before you share.

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