1. As part of visiting professor Craig Silverman's time at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, he delivered a public lecture Jan. 21 at UBC Robson Square.
  2. Silverman is an entrepreneurial journalist specializing in misinformation and errors in online news. His new project with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism asks one question: Is it true? The site, Emergent, focuses on how misinformation permeates across media, and through a rigorous verification process, works to debunk those rumours in real-time.
  3. His lecture "The Hoax Economy: Why our online world is awash in dubious rumours, hoaxes and fake news" covered a lot of ground. Here are some highlights.
  4. Silverman kicked off with some examples of rumours and hoaxes emanating from a single person's tweet or post of a photo with a misleading or false caption.
  5. With "Rehana, the Angel of Kobane" the Kurdish fighter who supposedly killed 100 ISIS soldiers, Silverman traced the origin of the story to a single unsubstantiated tweet from someone who wasn't even in the region. The story took off on the photo, obscuring real news from the conflict.
  6. So why have we ended up with so many hoaxes and fake news online? Silverman said it's a variety of factors.
  7. Hoaxsters and publicity stunts online vie for attention, and fake news sites with ambiguous, legitimate-sounding names can confuse things further.
  8. Silverman outlined a few particularly notorious fake news sites, some with millions of unique views a month and massive numbers of shares through social networks.
  9. Hoaxes can grab much more attention than efforts to correct them, Silverman said. Hoaxes take hold by playing on human nature and are spread quickly, especially on topics that elicit uncertainty, fear, or play into someone's existing views.