Find a fake news story that you would like to research.
Google the topic and see what information you can find from some of the fact checking websites.
Focus on the image(s) and see if you can find where and when these were first published online.
Carefully examine the claim that is being made. If the claim is false, refute it with expert opinion.
Take notes on the above materials and begin drafting your essay.
Your essay should be organized as follows:
Introduction: Post the images and story you will be evaluating. Summarize the rhetorical context. When and where did this story first appear? What is the main idea of the story? End the introduction with a thesis statement.
A recent Facebook story (February and March 2018) warned people to stop purchasing Cadbury chocolates for at least a few months because a factory worker had infected the candy with HIV infected blood. The post cites the BBC as the first organization to break the news. The post also shows an image of a man in handcuffs being taken away by police. The text for the picture states, “This is the guy who adds his infected blood to Cadbury products.” At first glance, this might seem like something to be worried about. After all, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a well-respected news organization. However, after careful examination and research it becomes clear that this is just another example of fake news that is propagating on the Internet today.
Now, summarize the results of your Google research. Include any history that you might find related to the posting.
A quick Google search of “Cadbury and HIV” brought up many articles from fact checking sources, such as Snopes. All of these sites labeled this claim as false. According to Snopes, this particular story has been circulating on social media since the spring of 2018, just in time to affect Cadbury’s Easter sales. This same claim appeared in July 2011. In this case, the HIV infected blood infected Pepsi products, and the public was warned to avoid purchasing any Pepsi product. Again in August 2012, the same claim appeared, again targeting Pepsi. Just months before the Cadbury story, the same claim was made against Anchor Butter. The International Business Times reports that in 2015, a woman named Anna Aquavia posted a variation of this claim on Facebook when she stated, “Someone is injecting HIV positive blood into bananas and oranges.” This caused panic for many Internet users. Aquavia stated that “her sister’s friend from Nebraska found blood in a banana.”
This story was investigated by the Washington Post who reported that the pictures used in the post were not of the friend’s infected banana. Rather, they were originally posted by a woman who saw red spots on a banana. In this post, the woman clearly indicated that the bananas were “deformed” rather than “infected.”
In the next section of your paper, refute the claim using expert opinion and research.
The claim of infection through food products can be easily refuted with a little research. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV won’t transmit through food handled by HIV infected persons. “You can’t get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus,” said the CDC.
Another interesting fact about his story is the image that accompanied the story. In order to trace an image back to its original source, Africa Check found that the image was originally published with a story on the Nigerian website Naija three years ago. The photo shows Aminu Ogwuch being extradited to Nigera from Sudan. Ogwuch was being charged with the April 2004 bombing of a bus park in the Nigerian capital of Abuja which killed 71 and injured 124 people.
Finally, compose a conclusion for your essay.
Social media may be a wonderful tool for connecting with friends and family and sharing interests and ideas. However, it has also become a source for rumors and fake news, especially about food related products. Everyone should become critical thinkers when reading news on social media. With a little bit of research, these fake news stories are easily refuted.
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