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FIU Social Media Research Discussion

FIU Social Media Research Discussion


When we are interested in a topic, we are often attracted to social media posts about the topic. While there is a lot of misinformation and disinformation on social media, social media can be used for our research—particularly as a starting point.

Researching Rhetorically 2 has two main goals that are intended to improve your ability to research rhetorically. First, you will practice fact-checking a social media post. Second, you will practice using that social media post as a starting point for finding more information. This assignment builds on the work you did in Researching Rhetorically 1 by asking you to apply what you’ve learned about researching rhetorically to fact-check a social media post and compare that post with another more reliable written text. Similar to Researching Rhetorically 1, the audience for this assignment is your instructor, and your purpose is to explain what you learned by fact-checking a social media post and comparing that post with another more reliable written text. The genre you are writing in is what writing scholars call a “school genre.” It is assigned by your instructor to help you learn course material. This assignment will give you practice with source selection, rhetorical analysis, and source verification.

Step 1:

Find a social media post or text about your approved research topic. In this case, social media will be defined as any interactive site (one that allows you to comment, like, or share). Try to pick a post that is relevant to the part of your topic you are most interested in. For example, if I’m interested in gun control, specifically as it relates to mass shootings on school campuses, then I would want to find a post about guns, mass shootings, and schools. (Note: if it’s a series of posts—such as a threaded tweet or a Tik Tok with multiple parts, you may discuss the entire series.)

Step 2: 

Share a link or screenshot of your chosen social media post and then analyze this text or series of texts. Please write at least 250 words. I have provided some guiding questions for you, in order to help you write an effective analysis on the Guiding Questions for Researching Rhetorically 2 page. 

Step 3:

Pick a few claims (facts, statistics, arguments) made in the social media text and fact check that information. Find a reliable source that either confirms or disproves that information. If you want to use an old-school method, use this checklist to help you make sure that your source is reliable.Links to an external site. However, if you want to use a more current and effective way to check that your source is reliable, try “lateral readingLinks to an external site.” as explained in this video. If you want to try lateral reading, here’s a checklist you can use. 

A) Share the link to the text you found as a result of your investigation (not the social media post, but the source or sources you used to fact-checked the claims). 

If you used the checklist: discuss at least one detail from your source that establishes each of the following: Authority; Purpose; Accuracy and Verifiability; Currency and Relevance.  If you can’t establish all four of these criteria, consider using a different source.  

If you used lateral reading: discuss the steps you took to read laterally with enough detail for me to understand your step-by-step actions and the elements of your source that passed your test. How did you establish the accuracy of the source, the reliability of the organization and/or author, and the purpose and appropriateness of the source? If you can’t establish that the source is accurate, reliable, appropriate, etc, consider using a different source. 

B) Then explain what you found using these guiding questions: 

What major claims from your social media post did you look up and what did you find? After your fact-checking, did the social media post include verifiable information or was the information false/misleading? 

What context were you able to add to the conversation by reading another source? What would you not have known about the larger conversation or issue if you had not looked up this other source? 

Did this exercise reveal a misconception about your topic? For example, was there something that you think that many people would be confused about when it comes to your topic, or a myth that’s commonly spread about the topic that you uncovered? OR, did your social media post and other source have different attitudes towards the subject that reveal something to you? Do you think the attitude/tone/stance reflected on the social media post in any way impacted its ability to participate in the larger debate or conversation on this topic? 

Did the information in the social media post help you uncover some aspect of the topic that you did not know? Did this whole exercise help illustrate some aspect of this larger conversation that you did not know before? In other words, did you end up finding a new idea related to your topic that you didn’t know before? Did it help you find reliable information that you would not have found otherwise? Did you find it useful to start with a social media post? 

What does this exercise reveal to you about the relationship between social media and academic research?

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