The internet has enabled a whole new way to publish, share and consume information. It has allowed the introduction of thousands of different media websites and social media pages. A lot of the news we consume online, mainly in our social media feeds, is not true, a lot of it is fake news. Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.
The term ‘Fake News’ was established by a media editor at ‘Buzzfeed’, Craig Silverman, during mid-2016. Silverman began noticing dozens of completely made up stories that seemed to originate from one small Eastern European town.
They proceeded to investigate more fake news stories and ended up identifying at least 140 fake news stories, which were pulling huge numbers on Facebook.
In October 2017, a publisher of a blog site name ‘FreedomJunkshun’, released an article titled “BREAKING: Black Soldier Killed in Niger Was A Deserter”, The story was accusing US soldier (David Johnson) of fleeing battle during an ISIS ambush, the article also stated that “Mr Johnson was not the perfect soldier that his mother wants us to believe”. This being Fake News, the real story is that four US soldiers, including Johnson were ambushed by ISIS, Johnson fled to seek cover and himself and the three other Soldiers were all killed in battle.
The Department of defense immediately contradicted the Fake news story and the publisher later apologized for disrespecting a deceased soldier. There was no legal action taken on this story. The unethical motive behind this story was to pander racists.
The reasoning for a lot of fake news stories is to gain attention and traffic to news’ websites through having click-bait titles that give people the urge to click and read the story. Another reason for fake news stories is to push an idea or belief. Fake news gained huge recognition during the time of the 2016 presidential election, where there were thousands of stories which were published to deter people from voting for the person that wasn’t liked by the publishers. Fake news is suggested to be a huge influence for the outcome of the election, here are some examples of fake news stories written about the electorates:
“Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and it was confirmed by Wiki-leaks”, “Trump mocks Trudeau for celebrating thanksgiving six weeks early”, “Pope Francis endorses Trump for President”.
Fake news is a trend that is almost impossible to stop. When viewing news on social media especially, we should always check to see if the facts in the story are actually true. We can do this by googling the story and see if other reputable news websites have posted about that story and whether all the sources are providing the same information.
There is always a motive behind fake news stories, and a lot of time people are easy to believe everything they read, we as consumers should always research details of news before we create our own opinion.