Fake News, Fake Politics. How to prepare yourself in the digital age
Hello, and welcome back! With Christmas being over and the new year approaching I thought it would be a great time to discuss fake news so that we can all start the new year prepared and ready to fight fake news.
What is Fake News?
There’s no doubt to the fact that Governments and powerful individuals, like our friend Trump, used information as a weapon for millennia.
Interested in seeing how Trump used social media for his 2016 campaign? Check out our other blog!
Living in the 20th century has made us witness new forms of mass communication which have unfortunately allowed propaganda’s scale and persuasive power to grow. Social media, in particular, has broken down many of the boundaries that have prevented fake news from spreading in democracies, it has allowed anyone to create and spread false information, especially to those who are tech-savvy. Publishing platforms like WordPress also allow anyone to create a dynamic, fake news website at ease.
So, what is fake news?
Fake News comes in all shapes and forms;
· It can be commercially-driven sensational content (stories which have no grounding in fact)
· Nation state-sponsored misinformation (the main goal of the information being influence rather than truth)
· Highly-partisan News sites (sites which are supportive of one political viewpoint or party)
· Social media itself (for example Twitter Bots, which were used in Trump’s campaign)
· Satire or Parody (Light-hearted parody publications like the daily mash)
· News stores from mainstream outlets that turn out to be hoaxes or mistakes, but had genuinely good intentions behind them when published
How to fight Fake News
“The way that people receive information now is increasing via social networks, so any solution that anybody comes up with, the social networks have to be on board” (Clare Wardle, Columbia University)
During the final weeks of the 2016 US presidential election, Obama expressed his concern as fake news outperformed real news.
It’s worrying to think that fake news misled many people into believing in false information which may have led them to vote for Trump…
To avoid a disaster like Trump, there are a few ideas of possible solutions…
|Human Editors||Crowdsourcing||Algorithmic Solutions|
|Positives||Human judgement is more reliable than computers||More democratic than a small team of paid staff, Less likely to be accused of a bias or censorship as anyone can theoretically join||A solution favoured by Facebook, who fired their human trending news team and replaced them with an algorithm in 2016, Free of personal bias|
|Negatives||Hiring is an expensive and long process and it may be hard for staff to react to news and make judgements quickly||Easier for people to join and promote fake news||Susceptible to breaking down or being hacked|
Which solution do you believe to be the most effective? Let us know in the comments below!
How can we spot Fake News?
It’s important that in the 21st century we are aware of how to spot fake news, that’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you out!
1. Consider the news source
Make sure you check the URL of the website and the contact us page to make sure the website is legitimate!
2. Read beyond the headline
Make sure you read the whole news article! Most fake news articles have false content!
3. Fact Check
Check the author and date! A simple step to prevent you from encountering fake news!
Still weary? We’ve found a list of fake news websites to help you out!
With different definitions and motives, it makes it extremely difficult to effectively counter fake news, warnings are issued to make people aware of fake news but is there an effective solution?
When reflecting on this topic and other blog topics such as the digital democracy, it leads us to think if the digital age is truly benefitting or worsening humanity?
Let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Next week we discuss the UK political system!
As always, reliable sources provided
Carson, J., 2018. Fake News: What exactly is it- and how can you spot it? The Telegraph(online), 28 November 2018. Available from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/fake-news-exactly-has-really-had-influence/ [Accessed 22 December 2018]
Woolf, N., 2016. How to solve Facebook’s fake news problem: experts pitch their ideas. The Guardian(online), available from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/29/facebook-fake-news-problem-experts-pitch-ideas-algorithms [Accessed 22 December 2018]
Kiely, E., Robertson, L., 2016. How to Spot Fake News. FactCheck.org(online), available from: https://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/ [Accessed 22 December 2018]