How can we trust social media if everything is Fake News?
The dramatic increase of Fake News over the past two years has many people wondering, who and what should I trust? It seems many political influencers have their own opinion on what is or isn’t fake news whether it is detrimental to their status or goes against their beliefs.
Donald Trump v The Mainstream Media:
The words ‘Fake News’ was coined by the elect president of the United States Donald Trump in the leading up to the 2016 US election. By definition, Fake News is “false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared online for the purpose of generating ad revenue via web traffic or discrediting a public figure, political movement, company, etc.” His controversial ideas had led to numerous leftist articles in which Mr. Trump had taken it upon himself to address the “Fake news”.
In what Mr. Trump’s declared as his enemies, or rather “enemies of the American People” include; The New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Buzzfeed etc, these sources are referred to as the leftist news. In terms of friends, the conservative news sources include; Fox news, Info-wars, The Blaze, and The Washington Times in which they share positive opinions about Mr. Trump. The negative impact of these fake news stories are the large masses and little time they are created in. However, it is reasonably easy to detect the mockery and sarcastic tone of fake news articles too many times has one been attracted to view news with such outrageous clickbait titles. In late 2016 Facebook introduced a system where users could rate a news article to improve the situation on fake and misleading titles, although nothing has been done to alter and prevent the articles from appearing in our feed. Additionally, Google and Facebook have been under fire for promoting fake news about the Las Vegas shooting displaying articles of conservatives accusing the shooter as being a liberal. The manipulative use of political propaganda exhibits the extremely damaging and negative side of fake news.
“America’s Finest News source” Trolling:
Trolling is a large segment of fake news in which provides satirical stories for the purpose of entertainment and discussion. www.theonion.com/ is one of the largest fake news sites on the internet which provides comedic and outrageous headlines such as “Toddler Scientists Finally Determine Number of Peas That Fit into Ear Canal” and “Doctors Discover Purpose of Appendix Is to Contain Human Soul” These ridiculous and humorous articles provide a lighter and less serious side which is the best example for the better uses of fake news.
List of fake news sites and articles:
The Onion: https://www.theonion.com/
“Toddler Scientist Finally Determine Number of Peas That Fit into Ear Canal”: https://www.theonion.com/toddler-scientists-finally-determine-number-of-peas-tha-1820347088
“Doctors Discover Purpose of Appendix is to Contain Human Soul”: https://www.theonion.com/doctors-discover-purpose-of-appendix-is-to-contain-huma-1820298350
Avoiding the trap:
Whether you want to fuel your confirmation bias and explore the side which pleases you the most it is important to avoid extreme bent sources. Identifying reputable sources can be difficult as every source has a personal bias but there are other ways to check the facts;
- Cited material and statistics: Identify the cited material from the article (Found at the bottom of most articles) and check whether the sourced information was accessed from a trusted and reputable site.
- University Studies and Government sites: It can be difficult to misjudge or be provided misleading information from official sites, claiming facts from university studies and government sites are the best sources to quote from.
- Click bait: The first major red flag is the title. Extreme titles and something that seems too good to be true probably is.
- Extreme personal opinions: The second major red flag is through the style and attitude of the author. Opinions add personality to text but extreme ranting and toxic views are not something to be taken away as factual information.
- Fake News cites: Make yourself aware of the purposefully fake news sites so you’re not fooled.
Research is the key for the validity of your understanding whether it’s about politics or everyday news, it’s good to make a conversation about these issues facing social media but having an open mind doesn’t hurt either.
By Isabel Stevens-Yager
Columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com. (2017). LibGuides: Real vs. Fake News: Detecting lies, hoaxes and clickbait: Avoiding Fake News. [online] Available at: https://columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/fake_news/avoiding [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].
Levin, S. (2017). Facebook and Google promote politicized fake news about Las Vegas shooter. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/02/las-vegas-shooting-facebook-google-fake-news-shooter [Accessed 8 Nov. 2017].
Robertson, A. (2016). Facebook is asking users to judge the truthfulness of news headlines. [online] The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2016/12/5/13849108/facebook-misleading-clickbait-news-headlines-survey [Accessed 8 Nov. 2017].
Robson, D. (2017). How to avoid falling for lies and fake news. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170210-how-to-avoid-falling-for-lies-and-fake-news [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].
Seriously Simple Marketing. (2017). Click Bait Headlines — The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. [online] Available at: https://seriouslysimplemarketing.com/click-bait-headlines-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
Stecula, D. (2017). The real consequences of fake news. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-real-consequences-of-fake-news-81179 [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
The Straits Times. (2017). The negative impact of fake news. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/the-negative-impact-of-fake-news [Accessed 8 Nov. 2017].
Theonion.com. (2017). The Onion. [online] Available at: https://www.theonion.com/ [Accessed 8 Nov. 2017].