SACKVILLE, NB – Do you know how to spot the difference between fake news and truthful information? It’s easy to be tricked, especially if someone you trust falls for it.
Dr. Erin Steuter, a professor of sociology at Mount Allison University, has spent her career researching how misinformation spreads and decided it was time to help everyone fight back.
“The speed at which fake news spreads has accelerated with 24-hour news cycles and social media,” she says. “It has influenced elections around the world with “alternative facts” and even caused deaths due to false health information.”
In a recently published graphic novel, Won't Get Fooled Again: A Graphic Guide to Fake News, Steuter helps readers understand what fake news is, where it comes from, and how to check its accuracy.
“It’s possible to find misleading information in all news outlets,” Steuter said. “The best way to protect ourselves is to learn how to check the facts and the motivations of the people presenting them.”
One issue her book addresses is the reason fake news has become such a problem. Aside from some governments and organizations who actively manage propaganda campaigns, Steuter points to the relationship between news and advertising.
She also advocates for everyone to think a moment before hitting the like or share buttons on social media.
“Fake news is designed to cause an instant emotional reaction,” Steuter, said. “If we hit the share button without checking the facts, we’re helping to spread misinformation.”
Steuter said she chose a graphic novel format instead of a traditional book because it’s more engaging for audiences.
“Using a comic book format allowed us to show how we all experience fake news,” Steuter, said. “Readers identify with the diverse characters, and immediately recognize these situations in their own lives.”
Alan Spinney, the book's illustrator, was recruited early on in the process. Spinney, an oil painter based in Moncton New Brunswick, has a background in cartooning and advertising layout. He says he jumped at the chance to illustrate a book on fake news.
"The topic was timely, and the size of the project was impressive. I drew using a comic book art style, and did it 'old school', that is, pencil and marker on paper. It allowed me to keep the drawings expressive but easy to read and understand."
Won't Get Fooled Again: A Graphic Guide to Fake News is published by and available now from Between The Lines.