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Young Scholars 2017

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Today many people (e.g., 62% of adults in the United States; Pew Report, 2016) get their news from social media. The news comes in a variety of forms including mainstream news articles, mainstream news video clips, blogs by the general public, late night television clips, and various talk shows. This information is frequently reposted by social media users with the poster adding his/her thoughts and perspective.

Although social media provides an opportunity to quickly spread information with people in our social network, few consider the consequences of the "echo chamber" that is created by sharing and consuming information by our like-minded friends and family.  In addition, there is widespread distrust of mainstream media and fact checkers - especially those media outlets and fact checkers who disagree with our perspective and information.


This year's Young Scholars will consider the many ways that social media impacts how people form and maintain their opinions about current events. Working with Clarkson professors, students will explore media literacy and how to evaluate information. Students will research the ethics and practice of journalists as well as the psychological biases and heuristics that consumers rely on when processing information. ,p Students will also investigate proposals from platforms such as Facebook for how to curb the spread of fake news on social media. Young Scholars will be tasked with proposing methods and procedures for identifying “fake news” and stopping its spread without violating the First Amendment protecting US citizens the right to freedom of speech and press.

From their research, students will:
  • Identify psychological processes that people use when reading/viewing news that reinforces their existing beliefs and opinions and makes it difficult for consumers to objectively consume the news.
  • Consider how journalists research, report, and disseminate the news. Students will consider the biases of individual journalists and mainstream news companies as well as the differences between trained journalists and bloggers.
  • Consider whether social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat have a responsibility to be active in reducing the spread of fake news and how such monitoring effects social media users. Students will also explore the effectiveness and sustainability of current proposals for reducing the spread of fake news.
  • Identify weaknesses in their proposals and what technological advances are needed to strengthen their proposals.

At the end of the week, Young Scholars will present their proposals to guest panelists.


Fake News