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Published On: Fri, Apr 12th, 2019

Why is Fake News a Real Problem?

With more than half of the world’s population owning a smartphone, getting any news through to the public is quite simple especially with thousands of news websites and blogs on the internet. 

What is Fake News?

Fake new is stories and articles you read on your social media feeds and blogs which are untrue stories or hoaxes which is deliberately created to deceive the public or in worst case scenario create panic amongst the people. Fake news is published to influence people’s view to support a political agenda or cause commotion in the public.

photo/ Gordon Johnson

Types of Fake News

1. Propaganda

These are news created to influence the public to support a particular propaganda. The news published would be biased towards the propaganda.

2. Clickbait:

There are headlines or feature images which are fabricated in such a way that the public is influenced to click on the story increasing the visitor number of the website. Sensational headlines with misleading information are published to grab public attention and mostly the article content or video would not be related to the headline posted.

3. Careless Journalism

Sometimes the intent of the news channel is not to publish fake news but due to misinformation through unreliable sources and lack of proper validation of the news, the news published may not be exactly the truth.

4. Misleading Headings

This news may not be entirely fake, but the headlines is created in such a way that the news sounds sensational. The full story may reveal the truth, but the headline may influence the public in a false manner.

5. Social Media News:

Individual people posting an untrue incident on their social media feed which gets shared and goes viral which maybe a possible form of misleading and influencing the public. Such propaganda is done the most during elections.

6. Parody

Few websites also create fake news just for the sake of entertainment. This is exactly not wrong always as these websites are clear about their intentions.

The Ascent of Fake News:

In earlier days we got news from reliable sources like popular newspapers or half an hour news report on television. The news hours were limited to a short time hence we got to learn about the most important affairs in the world. But, with the introduction of 24 hours news channels and thousands of blogs and websites publishing news, the competition has increased hence these sources need to make sure that the public is interested in their content. Hence the reporters cross all the lines of privacy and start reporting minute details. With not many regulations, it is getting more and more difficult to find if a story is credible. To read so many fake news in a day can be a cringe and make you want to throw your phone off sometimes.

Another interesting way channels work nowadays is speculating stories out of an incident and reporting it live for the public to form an opinion about it. The Salvator Mundi conspiracy theory is a classic example of how a theory which had not much of proof was constantly reported by the media as high-profile people were involved.

Russian Business Tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, who owned Salvator Mundi, by Leonardo da Vinci sold it to a Saudi Prince for $450 million dollars at an auction, which is the largest sum paid for any artwork till-date. However, the theory created by media suggested that the auction money was transferred to an Israeli PR firm linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. This theory is still a theory till date as clearly the hype created by the media was to influence the public as a part of political propaganda against the Trump campaign.

How to Deal with Fake News:

Most of the people including many youngsters have the access to these websites and social media accounts which publish fake news which can be a big negative for the society as these younger crowds can easily be influenced in the wrong direction.

It can be difficult to differentiate between authentic and fake news but as responsible citizens, every individual should be careful not to believe a piece of news if it is not confirmed by authentic sources. Also, if you find fake news or a piece of news with a biased agenda, report it immediately and stop its promotion on social media. Google and Facebook have taken a step against such fake news by the introduction of flagging or reporting such posts. You can also visit BBS’s fact-checking site to confirm the news.

Information available online can be a good influence on youngsters but such false news and misleading articles can influence them in the wrong direction at an early age as young minds are impressionable. With so many websites operating online, it is not an overnight job to be able to block all these fake sites, the better option would be to filter the news from our end and not fall into the baits of such false news creators.

Author: Nataliya Stefanus

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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