Do you believe everything you read online? Stories are out there releasing false and misleading news. Do you ever consider that the horrifying news story you are reading is fake? Read on to find out more…
Fake news stories are more viral than real news stories (Romano 2016). As social media has become more popular in our society, it is easier to access these websites as a source for news gathering. 44% of the population look to Facebook to catch up on news stories (Gottfried and Shearer 2016). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has responded to claims about the abundance of fake news stories shared on the site with the assurance that only 1% of the news stories shared can be seen as false or as a hoax. However, the number of fake stories isn’t the danger, it’s the number of shares these stories gain and the total audience reach who believe what they read.
It might not be intended to be malicious. What could start out as a prank or a bit of fun may result in some pretty hefty consequences. For example, on Christmas Eve this year, a fake news story led to threats of nuclear war between Pakistan and Israel. In an article posted by AWDNews on the 20th December, the former Israeli Defence Minister, Yooshe Maloon was quoted a threatening to destroy Pakistan with a nuclear attack if they went on to send troops into Syria. The Defence Minister for Pakistan, Khawaja Asif then responded on twitter reminding Maloon that Pakistan also had nuclear weapons at the ready.
Most recently, it could be said that fake news has been to blame for major political events that have occurred in the past year. For example, the US Election 2016 may have swung an entirely different way if there weren’t fake news stories shadowing Hilary Clinton. There were claims that she runs a paedophile ring out of a Washington Pizza Restaurant.
When millions of peoples’ lives are at risk, maybe this isn’t so funny.
How to spot fake news
- Consider the source: there are an abundance of websites dedicated entirely to producing false news. Click here for a list of well-known fake news websites.
- Read beyond the headline: Even in legitimate news stories, the headline doesn’t tell the full story.
- Check the author: Did J.King write this article? Maybe take the article with a pinch of salt.
- What’s the support: Are there any articles linked to reference it with? PS. Wikipedia isn’t a valid source.
- Check the date: Many fake news stories aren’t entirely false but just distortions of news that would be valid at different times. For example, “Since Donald Trump Won The Presidency… Ford Shifts Truck Production From Mexico To Ohio.” These two stories may be unrelated, yet CNN choose to make them seem connected. Not exactly false news but definitely misleading…
- Is it a joke? Is it funny and maybe irrelevant? Maybe don’t take it too seriously: Click here to see some crackers
I hope that this post has inspired you not to be believe everything you read! Next week, to celebrate the new year, we will look at the amazing applications that technology provides for us to fulfil our 2017 resolutions. Stay safe surfers!