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Where preposterous stories come from

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Twitter and Facebook may be excellent tools for gathering news, but they have a downside, Kevin Rawlinson writes — they're also an excellent breeding ground for fake news stories: "Those working in newsrooms talk of dubious stories being tolerated because, in the words of one, some senior editors think 'a click is a click, regardless of the merit of a story.' And, if the story does turn out to be false, it’s simply a chance for another bite at the cherry."

How reporters are using social media

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Matt Shipman writes about a new paper on how journalists are integrating Facebook and Twitter into their work: "Only 22.7% of study participants said that Facebook was either an 'important' or 'very important' tool for their reporting. On the other hand, 51.7% of participants said Twitter was an important or very important tool." The percentages might be larger but for the fact that more than half of the journalists' employers had policies restricting social media use.

How to spot a fake news story

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Did the New York Times report that Elizabeth Warren endorsed Bernie Sanders? For while, many Facebook posts said so, Josh Stearns writes: "It is increasingly simple for activists and pranksters to spoof the look and feel of a major news website and these fakes can have real impacts from Wall Street to the voting booth. However, in each of these past cases there has been some clear giveaways that are instructive for anyone who wants to spot fakes in the future."

The fatal flaws in Twitter

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Wall Street is punishing its stock and its management has become a revolving door, but Walt Mossberg writes that Twitter's single biggest problem is that it's just too hard to use: "Try to explain to a mainstream consumer, even someone who's decent at using an iPhone or Facebook, what counts in the famed 140-character limit in a tweet, or the difference between 'blocking' or 'muting' an unwanted follower, or whether 'liking' a tweet means you agree with it or not."

Is it time to stop live tweeting?

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Ian Lunt writes about a recent scientific conference from which the volume of tweets was overwhelming: "Peak tweet can be defined as the time when the rate of tweet production far exceeds the rate of potential consumption. In 2015, a sizable ecology conference exceeded peak tweet. Attendees live-tweeted far more messages than readers could feasibly find or read." Lunt's recommended remedy for peak tweet? More aggregation with distinct hashtags via tools such as Storify.

How not to tweet from a conference

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Mehmet Erdogan offers a half-dozen tips for using social media effectively when covering a conference: "Don’t photograph five men in suits sitting lethargically around a table. And if you happen to, don’t tweet it. When you post an image of men sitting around a table (and yes, the gender disparity is often glaring) you’re contributing to the impression that you’re doing nothing but reinforcing the status quo." Also, "don’t be scared to have a personality."

Time to say goodbye to the hashtag?

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Shadi Rahimi writes that the news media and the public at large are using fewer hashtags in social media. She attributes the shift to their overuse and the ethical issues they sometimes pose: "You might have thought that by tweeting #CallMeCaitlyn last week you were guaranteed engagement. Perhaps, as the hashtag was trending up. But a quick glance at Topsy near the end of the day showed 'Caitlyn Jenner' as a keyword set on Twitter was trending higher than the hashtag."

One writer's favorite Twitter tools

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Frances Caballo reviews nine applications for using Twitter more effectively. Included are the search engine Topsy; Hashtagify, which rates the prominence of any hashtag; Twitonomy, which analyzes your Twitter profile and extracts details about your interactions with other users; and My Top Tweet, which allows you to enter the usernames of any Twitter users and see which of their tweets were the most retweeted.

Finding the first person on Twitter

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Daniel Victor is a New York Times editor who explains in a blog post how he searched Twitter for first-person anecdotes to go with a story about airline seating conflicts. Selecting the right keywords to use was the key, Victor writes: "Here’s the main takeaway: Imagine what your perfect source would tweet, or what you yourself would tweet in that situation, and search for the words that would probably be in it. And be sure you’re not limiting that to the SEO keywords."

How to check news from social media

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Josh Stearns and Leighton Walter Kille offer suggestions for separating truth from rumor in the social media age. They include links to three tools for detecting altered images, plus fact-checking sites and other new tools: "The issue has become even knottier in the era of collaborative journalism, when nonprofessional reporting and images can be included in mainstream coverage. The information can be crucial — but it also can be wrong, and even intentionally faked."