“It’s a hoax.”
“This is fake news.”
Those were a few of the posts of disbelief on social media to the news of George Michael’s death on Christmas Day.
Many of us are on high alert for fake news, so it’s understandable that people would dismiss the story of the legendary pop singer’s death.
In fact some of my Face-book friends refused to post anything about Michael’s death until they found a credible source to confirm the story.
After all, it was Christmas Day. How does the singer of one of my generation’s most iconic Christmas songs, “Last Christmas,” die on Christmas Day? It sure sounded like fake news.
One headline about Michael’s death reminded me of a famously fake Betty White death story.
The fake headline about the famous actor reads, “Betty White Dyes Peacefully In Her Home.”
Of course, White is still very much alive. Any good sleuth or wordsmith probably picked up on the word choice in the headline.
Did you catch it?
Naturally, there’s a big definition difference between “dyes” and “dies.”
“It’s not like I don’t trust my friends,” one Facebook friend lamented to me in a private message. “Most of [my friends] are kind of gullible and they’ll post anything without checking [the story’s] authenticity.”
When all else fails, I turn to Snopes.com, a wonderful antidote to bogus news. According to their site, Snopes “attempts to give accurate information about rumors and urban legends on a variety of topics, including war, business, events” and more.
However, news like that of Michael’s death spreads so quickly that even Snopes can’t confirm or deny authenticity.
So, beyond checking a news source and using myth-busting sites such as Snopes, online news readers are left to their own devices for uncovering the truth. Here are some additional strategies:
Check the URL. The URL, or “uniform resource locator,” is simply a Web address. I’d rather not give credence to the site for the fake Betty White story by including it in this column. But if you want to search for it, be my guest. Even though they pass themselves off as satire, these sites have only exacerbated the trust issue. If you want good satire, go to The Onion.
Quote and Experts. I often ask students to find news-related blog posts with quotes from experts. It’s kind of a fool’s errand because some bloggers often post critical reviews and rants. Then they try to pass off these rants as real news. Credible journalists seek out multiple and expert sources to add context and legitimacy to a news story.
Trust Your Gut. If you think a story is false, trust your instincts. If something sounds too good (or bad) to be true, look for a second or third trustworthy, credible site before posting a link to the story to your social media accounts.
People around the world will be waking up Christmas morning to find a new smart phone under their tree.
If you’re one of the lucky souls to score a new phone, the excitement of ripping through the wrapping paper to get to your new toy is only half the fun.
After setting up your phone, the first order of business will probably be a selfie or two by the tree.
Then it’s on to downloading apps.
Of course, there are many apps from which to choose. Probably too many.
As of June 2016, there were over 2.2 million apps available to Android users and over 2 million apps for Apple devices, according to statista.com.
It’s hard to know where to begin. Sure, you could start with must-have apps like Facebook and Instagram. Or maybe you’re a gamer, waiting for a chance to try your hand at Pokemon Go or Mobile Strike.
Some of the best apps for getting you through the holiday are actually Christmas-themed apps.
So, whether your smart phone is brand new, or you have an old phone due for an upgrade, Christmas apps are both fun and beneficial for getting through the season. Here are a few of my favorites:
How The Grinch Stole Christmas. A few years ago, I downloaded this app. My kids and I return to it every holiday. Of course, the great Dr. Seuss tale is not the only Christmas book available for iOS and Android platforms, but it is on the best for the money ($1.99). Sure, it’s designed for kids, but that’s my main motivation for opening it every holiday (secret: it’s actually a lot of fun for adults, too). Check out the reading options, tap the pictures as you navigate the pages, and listen to the professional narration or record your own.
Christmas Photo Apps. Getting everyone to fit around the Christmas tree for a family photo can be tough. Instead, you can capture that great moment anywhere and set it within an amazing holiday frame. With an app like “Christmas Photo Frames” available for Android and iOS devices, simply take a photo or pick one from your gallery, select a frame style (e.g., Santa Claus, candy canes, etc.), apply texture and tones (e.g., gray scale, sepia, etc.), and save it. When your masterpiece is complete, share it on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
Tracking Santa. Let’s be clear. NORAD’s Santa Tracker is the gold standard for following the big guy and his reindeer as they circumnavigate the globe. NORAD (or North American Aerospace Defense Command) offers great features including following Santa’s progress on Dec. 24, playing games, and listening to Christmas tunes. The app is free and available for Android and iOS devices. Make it extra special and track Santa’s moves with the rest of the family on your large, Internet-connected television.
Facebook launched its new Parents Portal on Tuesday, a collection of resources for parents.
The portal sits within Facebook’s safety section. You can find it by typing “safety” in the Facebook search menu.
The broader safety site includes links to the Safety Center and Help Center. These sites include information on Facebook policies, tools and resources for staying safe online. You can perform quick security and privacy checkups for your accounts.
Also included in the Safety Center, but not directly linked to the Parents Portal, is the Bullying Prevention Hub, with resources for teens, parents and educators.
Additionally, at the bottom of the navigation menu under the Help Center menu, is a link to suicide hotlines, with links to resources and suicide prevention numbers in more than 40 countries.
The Parents Portal is an attempt by Facebook to be make social media safer for everyone.
“Our goal is to help foster conversations among parents and their children about staying safe online,” Facebook said in the announcement posted yesterday.
The Parents Portal submenu provides parents with links to categories including “Get to know Facebook,” “Parenting Tips,” and “Expert Advice.”
The opening page to the Portal reads “We’ve come up with some handy links, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your experience and help your child navigate their experience.”
Antigone Davis, head of global safety for Facebook, said the ultimate goal of the Parents Portal is to create discussions between parents and children about online safety and social media use.
“The way that we hope to do that is by providing parents some of the fundamentals about Facebook so they can engage in meaningful conversations with their children over the course of their lifetime,” Davis said.
Within the “Get to Know Facebook” section, you’ll find information for helping new users get started on Facebook and how to help them stay safe when they get started.
Facebook’s “Staying Safe” section includes information on community standards (what is and isn’t okay to share on Facebook), policies for keeping teens safe, and underage accounts.
Parents also can find links to help explain basic Facebook functionality to their kids, such as blocking, following and unfollowing, friending and unfriending, and reporting cases of abuse, bullying and harassment.
The best part? Facebook gives you links to videos.
So, if you don’t know how to talk to your kids about these important issues after reading the information, or your kids won’t listen to you, show them a video. For example, check out the video on safe friending under Facebook’s Best Practices menu.
It’s clear that Facebook wants the experience to be fun and safe for users of every age, and giving parents more tools to protect their kids online makes us all a little safer.
This week, I asked my friend Dennis Schiraldi to share with you some news about DOYO Live, Youngstown’s digital marketing and interactive design conference.
Schiraldi is the founder of DOYO Live, and although the next conference isn’t until Aug. 3, our group is hard at work planning another action-packed program.
DOYO Live is excited to announce the yearlong sponsorship partners in our benefactors program.
Throughout the year, you’ll hear from these digital marketing and interactive design businesses as part of our content marketing strategy at doyolive.com. We’re hosting monthly webinars on a variety of professional development topics in marketing, business, sales and design professionals.
In addition, you’ll hear from our benefactors in our blog, weekly email, social media, workshops and ongoing marketing consultation. And, of course, you’ll hear from them at DOYO Live in August.
If you’d like to present or run a workshop, sign up to speak at DOYO Live today. Our call for speakers is open until Dec. 31. We’ll make selections and announcements in early 2017.
If you’re planning ahead, DOYO Live tickets are available to our opt-in email list subscribers and attendees from last year for $100 until Dec. 31 (you save $125 over full ticket prices).
DOYO Live Benefactors
Valley Digital Services is a cooperative effort of 21 WFMJ-TV and The Vindicator. As a family-owned and operated local company, they’ve helped local businesses for decades in the Valley by reaching local customers. They offer a full suite of digital marketing options such as website design, search engine optimization, social media and reputation management, and targeted online advertising campaigns, including social media advertising.
JuggerBot3D offers a high-quality, cost effective 3-D printer for manufacturers. Their top-notch quality 3-D printers coupled with patented technology makes this start-up an important player in additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. JuggerBot3D is a Youngstown Business Incubator portfolio company. CEO and founder Dan Fernback is a local engineer who graduated from Boardman High School and YSU.
Sokitnop Design. Mike Pontikos, owner of Sokitnop Design, is the creative director of DOYO Live. In addition to providing us with his expertise on branding and design, he’s a marketing instructor at YSU. Pontikos is helping to mold college students into professional marketers. He plans an event for YSU Ads Club students and marketing majors, known as the Ads Summit.
R. Kashmiry & Associates provides health benefit plans to individuals, as well as small and large group health insurance plans. They are well-respected leaders in the benefit design industry, working with state associations and groups, as well as providing services to over 1,000 out-of-state clients. Ray Kashmiry is a longtime business owner in Youngstown, with a strong commitment to the Valley.
~ Dennis Schiraldi is the founder of DOYO Live and a social media instructor at YSU. Look for more information on DOYO Live at doyolive.com and in this column.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor of communication studies the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on social media and society.