Spread and Impact of Fake News

Fake news is nothing new. We have entered a new world of the media with a speed unheard of and technology makes the spread of ideas faster and more adaptable, hence making it easier for propaganda material to reach more people. Also the advance of new forms of digital media have posed serious challenges for quality journalism. These challenges include a decrease in critical thinking among audiences making them more susceptible to disinformation and manipulation and results in false information reaching the public either deliberately or by accident which results in what we know as fake news today. Fake news is /can be defined as the promotion and propagation of news articles via social media. These articles are promoted in such a way that they appear to be spread by other users, as opposed to being paid-for advertising. The news stories distributed are designed to influence or manipulate users opinions on a certain topic towards certain objectives. Fake news has gained great prevalence in intergovernmental and national policies and regulation. Some believe it is an old media practice of propagating false information that has been in existence since the media was established and journalism became a profession. Others see it as a brand new threat and challenge to democracy and international order. At the same time no general standardized, judicial and institutional framework on how to deal with the phenomena behind the notion of fake news has been found so far.

Fake news is indeed a descendant of propaganda, false rumors, and political manipulation. They include satire or parody ( which has no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool),  false connection (when headlines, visuals of captions don’t support the content), misleading content (misleading use of information to frame a person or an issue), False content (when genuine content is shared with false contextual information), imposter content (when genuine sources are impersonated), manipulated content (when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive), fabricated content (new content is 100% false, designed to deceive an individual). Fake news creators make money in very similar ways from how traditional news companies make money, from advertisements. They have display advertising for which they receive a small portion for every person who visits that page. Their goal is to get the news to go viral so a lot of people will visit hence more social shares mean more page views which result in more money. Since a lot of the fake news appears and is shared through Google and Facebook, they have taken steps to do something about it which include cracking down on fake news sites, restricting their ability to garner ad revenue. Google announced that it will prohibit “misrepresentative content” from appearing on its advertising network. Facebook says it will not place advertisements from fake news publishers on third party apps or websites, because the content falls under the category of “illegal, misleading or deceptive” content. Perhaps that could dissipate the amount of foolishness and hogwash online, though news consumers themselves are the best defense against the spread of misinformation.

As readers or general public, we can respond to fake news by looking out for signs such as misspellings in content and awkwardly laid out website, click-bait headlines, doctored photos and image, absence of publishing timestamps, lack of author, sources, and data etc. Lets hope that by becoming aware of the techniques used, we become more resistant to these methods and hence keep our society progressive for the future generations.

Categories: News

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