“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”- Winston Churchill
The lie that Churchill referred to now, not only gets ALL the way around the world, but has multiple news articles and websites, charity events, and even has a holiday before the truth comes out in today’s technological world, which seems slightly ironic given the ease at which we can research. The rate at which fake stories are now leaked is incredible (and a little bit frightening) , and even though people can easily use Google to find out the truth, we often choose to accept the first argument we see, even if it is outrageous.
The internet, in particular social media, has allowed for the rapid acceleration of ‘Fake News’.
This video explores what ‘Fake News’ means, and how it is used in society today- particularly by the one and only Donald Trump, lover of Fake News
A 2015 study states that by “age 18, 88% of young adults regularly get news from Facebook and other social media” (Shellenbarger, 2016), this shows how/why it is becoming increasingly common for young adults to be fooled by fake news stories as these media sites use data to manipulate the stories shown to the user through using their previous web history, which may make it more difficult to sift through the fake news that appears on websites as they all appear similar and become less obvious as time goes on.
There is also an assumption these days that the more shares and likes, or the highest trending hashtag of the day that it is a genuine story without questioning it further because why would it get that many likes if it was fake? (I mean, #AustraliaIsNOTReal, was trending only a few weeks ago, and we know that is definitely fake news)
This example shows how people are easily fooled by the number of shares a post recieves, regardless of its credibility. Blog site ‘The Valley Report’ published a post with the headline “Woman Arrested for Defecating on Boss’ Desk after Winning the Lottery” on April 25th, 2016:
Upon reading this article, I began to question the reliability of the source from the vocabulary and the professionalism (or lack thereof) and even the medium from which it came originally (Why wasn’t a proper news channel reporting about this and just one little blog page?), and it turns out the gentleman who runs the page, known as Dave Weasel, is a comedian who wrote the story for his blog which he created to write satirical new articles. He started writing as a joke and continued to create more content after one of his hoaxes went viral and earned him some money, so he decided to maintain his site for fake news articles (His also used a Facebook but that was shut down, however his Twitter is still active). This post gained a lot of publicity, it now has over 700 comments on the original post and had 1,765,000 shares, comments and reactions on Facebook alone, and “Dave estimated a third of people actually believed the story” (Silverman, 2016), however the interesting part of this is that majority of the people who shared it, didn’t not fully read the story merely liked the title and therefore not assessing its overall reliability. This really brought into question how people view new sources, particularly those posted online
So how do you get your news? Do you determine when its real or fake? Like I mean, is this news story real or not?
(Meryl doesn’t seem to think so)
Shellenbarger. S, 2016, Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds
The Wall Street Journal, viewed 2nd April 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/most-students-dont-know-when-news-is-fake-stanford-study-finds-1479752576
Silverman. C, 2016, Here Are 50 Of The Biggest Fake News Hits On Facebook From 2016, Buzzfeed, viewed 2nd April, https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/top-fake-news-of-2016?utm_term=.mjXlojDjlO#.prEyLXlXyQ