The Ugly Truth about Fake News
What is “fake news?” Fake news is a type of one-sided journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation that can be spread via traditional print articles, broadcast news, or online social media. It can spread quicker than a cold. A great majority of fake news stories rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits from the general public. Fake news takes on a variety of forms that can range anywhere from false accusations to the deliberate distortion of the facts.
Fake news is usually spread with the intent to mislead the intended audience to promote and/or damage an entity, person, or idea to gain financial or political advantage. Fake news is nothing new and has been around for a very long time.
President Donald Trump popularized the term “fake news” when using it to describe the negative press coverage of himself during his campaign back in 2016. Since then, the term has been used by many individuals when confronted by stories that seem questionable to them.
A Pew Research Center study conducted just after the 2016 election found 64% of adults believe fake news stories cause a great deal of confusion and 23% say they have shared a fabricated news story – either knowingly or not.
What’s the goal of airing fake news? The main goal is to produce an irrational fear reaction rather than a rational response to the information being presented to the audience. A particular method used when presenting fake news is to give information in such absolute terms that it cannot be questioned. When it comes to fake news, the facts are selective, exaggerated, and over-hyped to present a biased impression of events. This type of manipulation of the truth is called “sensationalism.” Fake news outlets have become nothing more than a tool to further a divisive and biased agenda.
Should you distrust all news? No, this would also mean discounting honest reporting. That said, it is important to question everything you’re being fed before you let a catchy headline take over your emotions. The news is meant to be objective, honest, and unbiased, but in the fast-paced world of deadlines, it can be tempting for writers, journalists, or reporters to compromise their integrity to make a name for themselves.
Here are three simple ways to watch out for fake news:
The intentional spread of false information affects our view of the world and the discussions we have with the people we encounter. Reporting selective, biased, and fabricated information is not journalism; if anything, it’s manipulation through misinformation. Fake news is causing increasing division among Americans today and has even led to unnecessary and avoidable conflict. The perpetrators of this type of media have the intention and the ability to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality, initiate possible violence, and cause the defamation of someone’s character. The spread of false information can tarnish the lives and reputations of innocent people, and the consequences can sometimes be permanent.
Don’t believe something just because it supports your world view, and stay cautious over what you’re being fed. Most readers tend to not check the source of the material that they view online before they share it, which can lead to fake news spreading quickly and at times going viral. Just because the headline sounds good, it doesn’t always mean that it’s true. Remember, you’re entitled to the truth, not the media’s version of it.