Fake News and Knowing What’s What

Is Fake News an issue? What are the real implications of Fake News? Should Social Media sites be filtering Fake News to prevent misinformation?

Well, I was just having a think…

Fake news is only dangerous if taken seriously. I think it’s also dangerous is the people sharing Fake News don’t know it isn’t real.

But it’s Fake, why wouldn’t I know it isn’t real?

Well, Fake News has risen to be a bit more of an issue of late, especially when you look at the American election just past. Facebook came under scrutiny because it was believed that the amount of Fake News shared on Facebook swayed voter’s opinions. And this may be true, but Fake news has been circulating for years and choosing to see it as a problem now just doesn’t cut it.

Parody and satire are both mediums I enjoy and often promote on my own social media, however, they do have the tendency to negatively implicate the people who employee them if their audience isn’t used to such publications. During such heated political times like the election, it’s expected that content creators will take the opportunity to make memes and other satirical content to promote their brand – or simply for a laugh. When there is visual content, it can often be discerned for real or fake – but satirical news articles like that one below can sometimes be shared with the idea that they are a reputable source of News.

The Onion is a remarkable website and online publication that is both notorious and highly regarded for it’s fabricated and often outlandish news articles that are, with full intent, meant to make its readers laugh – the ones that know it’s a parody site.

However, if a somewhat similar story came up on your news feed and it wasn’t linked back to a website you knew to be satirical, you’d almost believe it to be an actual news site, or some independent site wanting to make headway as a reputable news site. This isn’t a bad thing, but when stories come closer to political issues that promote themes which may prove a detriment to political leaders, minorities or other groups or individuals of interest, they can begin to blur the lines between Satirical/Parody News, and blatant Fake news made for disseminating misinformation.

This was the real issue during the Election, that sites were releasing blatantly fake news articles to generate discourse and generate revenue through their site. The issue with this Fake News is that it can be written in a way that appeals to political or other opinion and say what select readers want to hear, increasing its shareability but damaging reputations as a result. Here’s a graph showing the % of people who get their news from the listed Social Media:

I found it most surprising that Reddit beat Facebook in News consumption (Just barely – but don’t forget to consider the amount of profiles on Facebook.) but it provides an insight into the growing number of people turning to Social Media for their news. So, should Social Media sites be doing more? Well, if there’s a will, there’s a way. I personally think that as it stands, if Fake News is only becoming an issue now it’ll be an issue for a while longer, and despite improved algorithms to help combat Fake news, choosing what we read, the responsibility comes back to us. It’s up to use to discern what we believe to be reputable information and what we know is satire or false information.

I do encourage Facebook to work on their filtering methods but you have to remember that they also walk a fine line between begin the world’s greatest Social Networking site, and the ultimate online editor for Digital Content.

Here’s a snippet from a series I’m doing over on my Facebook Page. Sunday mornings I upload a video reflection of my week and talk about what I’ve done throughout the week and a News item. This time I talked about Fake News. Watch the full video over on my page!

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