Did you say Fake News?
What is fake news?
Information is spread daily through many different channels. We as consumers receive information in ways that we might not be able to identify at that moment. Even subconsciously manipulation is something very common in many different avenues of life. We consume news in many different ways such as; internet platforms (Facebook, Twitter), news applications that are accessible from almost any device around the world. The spread of information is much faster than it was a decade ago. There are two main motivations of why fake news is distributed the way it is. The first being because of financial reasons, the more people click on something that is completely false, the more money they make. If the headlines that are getting clicked are the most popular then why would news distributors not continue what they are doing? The second motivation would have to be the political or ideological gain. There are people who are purposely putting out misinformation to gain support for a certain political candidate. (Edson C, 2018.) This is what people mainly think of when they hear the term fake news. With that being said there is so much information out there for the consumption of man, and with that much information, there is an equal amount of misinformation that is out there to derail the truth and misinform in almost all aspects.
I'm sure you have heard of the social media platform name Twitter. Twitter is a social networking site that allows micro-blogging for its users. They have a limited amount of characters to tweet something and present it to the public. Twitter became a big part of our political climate in the 2016 elections. It was one of the main hubs for information, younger aged being the majority in that demographic. Twitter also has a problem with having an abundance of fake accounts. We will go into the details of why these fake accounts are here but let's start with ways to spot a fake account… the easiest one to stop would be the profile picture. If the picture is the default or its a stock image these are big indicates that the account you are viewing might be fake. You should also look at the content that is being provided on the account, if the information is random and does not make much sense then you may be looking at a fake account. Also the amount of followers someone has indicated a lot about the account. Twitter has this setting that doesn't allow users to have more then two thousand followers if the account does not follow two thousand users itself. Even low numbers can speak to the authenticity of the account. Next time you may get a request to follow someone. It may be a robot asking to be your "friend". (Makara, 2016.)
There are also people who feel like misinformation can come straight from the source itself. There was a case study done on the stock value of Twitter and the executors of this case study decided to put content on that platform that seemed to be reliable information and see if it would affect the overall value of the platform. In their research, they proved their theory about misinformation to be true. They stated that "We find the reaction to the fake news occurred in the equity market, and the options market reacted with a delay." (Brigida, 2017) This is important because it differs from all the other information provided when it comes to actual news events. This goes to show that there are so many waves of misinformation. Twitter in recent years has been at the center of all of these controversial case studies because many of the studies are showing how easy it is to provide misinformation and how easily people will believe it.
Let's talk more about the statistic of fake accounts and how many there truly are on our social media sites and the role they place with the spread of inaccurate information. There are two main social media platforms that really had major quantities of fake accounts and that would be Facebook and Twitter. During the 2016 election facebook discovered hundreds of fake accounts that had been distributing false information as well as promoting the political agenda of both parties that had been running that year. Facebook was also under fire because the platform was using personal information to influence aspects of the election. The creator of Facebook had to appear in front of capitol hill and explain what information was taken and why it was used in the way it was. (Guillary, 2018.) The fact that Facebook was using user information was all over the news when the insects first came out but what was not talked about so much is how it was connected to the elections and how the fake accounts also had a role to play.
Spread of misinformation
Wikipedia is one of the first websites to have the ability to change the information presented within the actual website. The website has had a history of having information that is false because of its ability to be changed by the users, so anyone can subject it to change. There is a metaphor that has been presented when it came to Wikipedia… it's called the "pipeline" it's the various level that information passes through and how even though their website is open to the public many people do not utilize that skill at all. Hence the information provided on the site would still be filled with accuracy. The following quote from an article considers Wikipedia pipeline had this to say…
"Overall, the results illustrate that knowledge gaps help explain inequalities in knowledge production activities online. We find that the pipeline metaphor charac- terizes the data accurately and that different factors explain engagement at stages of the pipeline in ways that previous research had not considered." (Aaron Shaw & Eszter Hargittai, page. 144)
There is inked evidence that connects our fake news to foreign countries. Depending on the area of the world you may be receiving your information and news differently than different parts of our nation. Here is a quote from an article that speaks to the foreign traffic of information…
"Moreover, in English-speaking countries, disinformation frequently attacks political actors, whereas, in German-speaking countries, immigrants are most frequently targeted. Across all of the countries, topics of false stories strongly mirror national news agendas. Based on these results, the paper argues that online disinformation is not only a technology-driven phenomenon but also shaped by national information environments." (Edda Humprecht, page.1)
So many countries all around the world are having the same modern day issue of fake news and being influenced by the media. Fake news is affecting people everywhere, in Brazil, there have been incidents of fake news. In late April of the year 2016 during the impeachment process of Rousseff, there was tension in the air concerning all the regulations and it broke that three out of the five news stories that were shared on Facebook were false.
Russia has been connected to misinformation distribution in the states in the past but are you aware of what their political climate is like? With this country being connected the way it is, you would think they wouldn't be fooled by the same tactics that they are enforcing on other countries but that isn't the case. Russia and Ukraine have a situation where both parties where on the news of late. Russia was just as prone to believing the fake information that was being spread through there network of media. (Irina Khaldarova, 2016.)
The distribution of fake news is something that affects millions of people around the world. It has become mainstream as of late because of the political connections in our current climate. Know what you as a consumer are reading and know what you want to believe. There are many different websites out there that will help you with fact-checking. The more important the problem the more focus that needs to be put into making sure the information given is actually accurate information. Fake news is a concept that can be avoided if we just do our part in regulating the media world today.
Brigida, M., & Pratt, W. (2017). Fake news. North American Journal of Economics and Finance,
42, 564-573. doi:10.1016/j.najef.2017.08.012
Connolly, K., Chrisafis, A., Kirchgaessner, S., Haas, B., Hunt, E., & Safi, M. (2016, December
02). Fake news: An insidious trend that's fast becoming a global problem. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/02/fake-news-facebook-us-election-around-the-world
Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Joy Jenkins & Stephanie Craft (2018) Fake News as a Critical Incident in
Journalism, Journalism Practice, DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2018.1562958
Guillary, S. (2018, September 05). What PR Pros Need to Know About Fake News. Retrieved
Humprecht, E. (2018). Where ‘fake news’ flourishes: a comparison across four Western
democracies. Information, Communication & Society, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/
Irina Khaldarova & Mervi Pantti (2016) Fake News, Journalism Practice, 10:7, 891-901, DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2016.1163237
Makara, C. (2016, August 04). 11 Easy Ways To Spot a Fake Twitter Account Instantly.
Retrieved from https://chrismakara.com/social-media/11-easy-ways-to-spot-a- fake-twitter-account/
Shaw, A., & Hargittai, E. (2018) .The pipeline of online participation inequalities: The case of Wikipedia Editing. Journal of Communication, 68(1): 143–168.https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqx003