The concept of fake news is defined as made up information, presented in a specific format, to make it look like authentic, real news, with the sole intention of deceiving the consumers.
False news versus fake news
Situations may occur when someone presents facts having in mind the purpose of being informative, only to be proven that the provided notions were untrue. In this case, an editor would have to take responsibility for the misinformation and send out a statement, mentioning the spread of false news.
Fake news on the other hand often doesn’t have a real author, but a fictive alias. Not to mention an editor to be held accountable. They aim for wide coverage, mostly using social media, just so they can benefit from the anonymity that a large spread offers. Fake news stories also have the tendency to become seen as real, once they get repeated and shared a large number of times. Ant this is precisely the reason for spreading fake news in the first place.Order now
Of relevance would be to differentiate between the two and not confuse an honest mistake, assumed and rectified, with the deliberate bad intent of tricking the consumers. The first may come from a job not so well done by the investigative journalist or through a slip on behalf of the editor, a wrong interpretation of some facts, an insufficient verification of sources or witness credibility.
Causes and spread of fake news
Fake news stories have different causes altogether as they are specially made up to influence people’s perception of some events, most likely in order to follow some hidden agenda. There have been known cases that the fake news spread has produced effects:
- in the economy, especially when influencing the stock market and the price of specific assets,
- in politics, some of the Parliament representatives have been influenced by some of these fake news stories in order to change their votes
- in medicine and health-related issues, for example, there has been a whole campaign, mainly focused on social media, based on irrelevant studies, on how vaccines are the main cause for autism.
Rumors have always existed, since the dawn of society and it could be said that they are the cornerstone of today’s modern journalism. Gossip is one of people’s favorite pass-time activity. However, before the development of social media and the high-rise of Facebook, in particular, the people having access to sordid details of one’s private life were restrained to family, friends, other acquaintances. It was still a problem in small, closed up communities. But the amplitude this can now take with only one share on Facebook makes things much worse.
The main two disadvantages that come along with the use of the Internet, but help fake news becoming a real phenomenon, are:
- Anyone can write anything online and can publish it without an editor to check it beforehand, as well as without fear of repercussion if the information is proven to be untrue
- The coverage that can be easily received through social media. Any fact, true or not, can be easily shared with friends or strangers, using one simple click.
The morality of fake news
There is also another point of view, when some publisher admittedly creates fake news stories, for the entertainment of its consumers, rendering them as a satire and underlining them as being fictional. The National Report example is the most relevant of them all.
Although an assumed fake news creator, the National Report website has lots of followers. They understand the irony and humor its articles contain and are entertained. Then they share on social media for others to be entertained as well. There is a debate about whether it’s morally correct to be the one who spreads fake news, even if there is an honest reason behind it. Then we should ask ourselves what happens if the consumers we sent the fake news article too, don’t have the ability to differentiate between the false news and accurate facts.
As it seems to be the case when even if the fake news has been openly rectified and highlighted as being fake news for sure, they have had much larger coverage than the rectification statement had. National Report is yet again the perfect example when being cited by a large News Channel that hadn’t managed to separate truth from fiction. The initial fake news got wide coverage, receiving more than six times the “shares” that the article that rectified it had.
Avoiding their bad influence
Although giant companies such as Facebook has declared a war against such practices, their power is limited, as no one wants to interfere with the right to freedom of speech and lines are already blurred.
To protect yourself from believing these rumors that take the shape of valid news, you might check out the facts as presented by well-respected and proven over time journals, such as the New York Times. They have a long history of showing the facts objectively, with a large number of readers that accept only the highest of performance. Also, a rhetorical analysis should be made whenever coming upon any new piece of information, in order to make it through a filter based on your own knowledge on the given subject.
Nowadays, it’s appropriate to say that bad news travel fast and fake news travels faster. Great caution must be taken on what we read, what we believe to be true, the news we decided to pass on to others and the role we play on distinguishing between manipulation and genuine information.