FAKE news is not new. It’s been everywhere now since things became hi-tech. With the recent increase in the use of social media, most especially Facebook, fake news has escalated and has even found its corner in the mainstream media. With this, honest and sincere media work is undermined.
In this digital world, it has become very easy for anyone to share information. One way or another, you and I could have just found out later that we have all been victims of fake news. Even Yoshaia and Zuriel, two of my grandsons who play games and watch Youtube all day long say that many things they see on their gadgets are unbelievable.
We all know that fake news is misinformation that appears as good news, depending on which side you come from. If it brings damage to a person or an organization, the other side benefits from it.
For many of us, the dangers of fake news come unnoticed especially if these do not directly affect them or if the item is unimportant to them. It competes with real news by casting doubt on it and reducing its importance.
This was prevalent in the last elections where most, if not all, were guilty of employing fake news and fake advertising. If one agrees or disagrees with the item in the news, probably the politician is voted upon, or not.
Fake news has many faces and therefore comes in different forms and meanings, depending on its application. The common character of all its appearances is false information or “false faces” that aims to benefit one side but damage another.
Talking about making money, the first fake news or misleading information could have been the advertisement for products being sold for public consumption. Fake news also makes money if the article is a legitimate advertisement for a product.
The other face of fake news is comments written by “ghosts” on social media, particularly on Facebook. These come in the form of words, phrases, sentences, and statements by FB users with fake or invented names that are easily detectable.
The comments are usually protective of high-profile persons who may have been exposed by legitimate news on mainstream media that are unfavorable because the valid news item could damage a product and a person, especially a politician.
The other false news comes in the form of a simple news article with a title and paragraphs that do not connect. Here, as the reader goes through the paragraphs, he will slowly become aware that the story does not support the title.
Another form comes as an edited photo. In this hi-tech world, digitized images or pictures captured by digital cameras and cellphones can be manipulated. Even audio recordings can be edited according to one’s preference.
Although before digital cameras, photos misinformed readers when their captions were manipulated with deceiving information. There were many instances in the past where the images were inaccurately described by the person who took the photos. Photos of a certain place could have been shot years ago, not recently as written in the caption.
In many cases, fake news included sensationalized articles that looked genuine. The news items come with “clickbait” headlines that aim to catch the attention of readers who click on a link to a web page.
There are numerous ways to spot fake news. Of course, a reader of the suspected fake news should have a mindset that does not easily get caught with the “shock” factor that was intentionally put in the news item to stimulate anger.
If the news item is on Facebook or Twitter, the reader has to approach it with caution. Ask the question, “Why was the article written?” And check who wrote the story even if it was a friend who forwarded it to you.
By the way, stop assuming that all mainstream media put out the clean good news. Although professional news outfits follow proper editorial guidelines and train their reporters, they still make mistakes and have their own biases and twists.
To limit the proliferation of fake news, especially on social media, the integrity of internet companies should be exposed, and the money they get from their business will be reduced. They should also be censored because they make money out of fake news published on their websites.
For the social media account owners, they can just think first before clicking. Unfortunately, what they can do to help stop spreading fake news is limited.