News travel quickly in any medium. The source to obtain information is very much faster and appreciated with the use of technology in various forms.
How well do we know what’s real and what’s not? Can we easily recognize fact from falsified information?
The occurrence of fake news is certainly a thing considering the amount of things that are shared and seen online. The general public must be wary and alert when it comes to these things. Social media plays a role on the existence of fake news and this is highly influential. News is based on facts and actual information, not through opinion and unbiased expression.
False media reporting has been rampant and the spread of carrying out wrongful information is almost impossible to determine.
While fake news is not a new phenomenon, recent events have heightened awareness with regard to the prevalence of questionable media sources, leaving citizens to evaluate the veracity of information that is presented. The deluge of information available in print, televised, and online media sources, including sites such as Twitter and Facebook, has also increased the level of critical analysis media consumers must use to evaluate those sources.
"Critical thinking is a key skill in media and information literacy, and the mission of libraries is to educate and advocate its importance."
Discussions about fake news have led to a focal point on media literacy more broadly, and the role of libraries and other education institutions in providing information about these things is completely relevant.
When Oxford Dictionaries announced post-truth was Word of the Year 2016, this had people realize how action is needed to educate and advocate for critical thinking – a crucial skill when navigating the information society.
Collins Dictionary, which chose fake news as word of the year for 2017, defines the term as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”
“The purpose of real news reporting is to inform,” says Jonathan Anzalone, PhD, a journalism professor at SUNY Stony Brook. Real news is truthful and unbiased.
A report created by the high-level group — which helped the EU (European Union ) craft policies to address growing concern about misinformation — contains an inclusive, collaborative approach to addressing misinformation around the world.
Spread of Fake News
According to a study conducted by former MIT student, Soroush Vosoughi, false news not only spreads faster, farther and deeper than the real thing, but that the reason for the wider spread isn’t technology. So what’s the cause?
Probably human nature, the researchers suggest. Working with Deb Roy and Sinan Aral, Vosoughi says the team conducted the most comprehensive study on Twitter yet, in both the time frame and the number of Tweets included. The study, published in the March 9 Issue of Science, covers a decade of Tweets, from Twitter’s launch in 2006 to 2017.
False political news was more viral than any of the other topics examined by the study. The research suggests that false political Tweets exceeded a reach of 20,000 people three times faster than a true story could reach half that number, regardless of category. The categories about urban legends and science joined politics with the fastest and farthest spread. False news on politics and urban legends were the most viral.
He then switched his research to focus on the problem of detecting and characterizing the spread of misinformation on social media.
Fake news are spread faster and believed more than the Truth
A study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute showed that, of the many stories shared on social media, 59 percent of them shared stories based solely on the headline, not the content within!
Headlines are an important part of journalism — without a captivating headline, people are less likely to read an article, which is the whole point of writing it, but they rarely contain all the important information.
“People get easily fooled by fake news,” said Marina Yeissner of Yale School of Management.
“The study suggests that fake news comes with a large cost not just for financial markets but for society in general. A lack of trust in real news ‘is a big problem,’ she says. ‘Exchange of information is very important.'”
People are the prime culprits when it comes to the propagation of misinformation through social networks.
Online applications had also taken time to resolve the immensely growing problem on the spread of fake news. A social application called WhatsApp handled messages or photos sent by users to figure out what online materials were copied or could contain inappropriate information.
WhatsApp's tips include checking with other sources, looking up photos online that may be edited, and thinking twice before forwarding a message you have doubts about.
"Fake news often goes viral" reads one. "Just because a message is shared many times, it does not make it true."
One of those features hopes to stop the spread of fake rumors. It shows when a message has been forwarded rather than composed by the sender.
Another social networking site, Facebook also took steps in order to combat the increasing prominence of misleading information online.
The company already displays related articles beneath false stories. These articles will come from reputable news sources and fact-checking organizations and are meant to provide a counterbalance to the fake stories.
Facebook says that its new policies can reduce the spread of fake news stories by as much as 80 percent. It isn’t an easy task, but Facebook says it is committed to helping solve the problem of fake news as stated from Digital trends.
Journalists with credentials don’t write fake news. If you have any doubt as to a story’s authenticity, search for the author online and check their credentials, suggests communications expert Chris Allieri.
When you read a story published by an outlet with a known agenda, you’re already stepping into fake news territory, so tread carefully. If the story perfectly dovetails with an outlet’s agenda, it’s worth investigating, according to the BBC.
According to Mantzarlis, one of the biggest reasons bogus news spreads on Facebook is because people get sucked in by a headline and don't bother to click through.
Deceptive articles regarding small and mid-sized firms were more likely to appear around the same time as press releases from those companies, and insider trading activity increased shortly after the articles were published.
Rob Holmes, an intelligence expert for more than two decades, tells Reader’s Digest he uses this rule of thumb: “When reading a news article, I immediately look for a reference to the source of the claim being made.” And if the online source cites another source, then Holmes checks that source too. “Unless there is a verifiable named source where I can confirm the claim, I do not consider it real news.”
If the links do lead to a legitimate source, it’s still important to browse the links. “Even fake news sites will site legitimate sources,” points out Andrew Selepek, PhD, a professor of telecommunications and director of the graduate program in social media at the University of Florida.
A lot of these viral claims aren’t “news” at all, but fiction, satire and efforts to fool readers into thinking that they’re for real.
As Anzalone points out, real news doesn’t tell you what to do, what to think, or how to feel. So if a news story incites an unusually strong emotional response in you or seems to be calling for action of some kind on your part, then it’s wise to consider whether what you’re reading is less than credible as a news story. The more urgent your desire to share the news? The more likely it’s fake!
Most fake news revolves around plagiarism. They tend to repeat or repost things that were already reported online. Including those which were already posted long ago. Users sharing content from blocked websites encounter messages informing them of security issues or violation of community standards. Samples include:
“We removed this post because it looks like spam and doesn’t follow our community standards,”
“You can’t post this because it has a blocked link. The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe,” read another from a website.
But some questioned the process on how websites are identified as “fake news websites.” In the Philippines, the spread of fake news affect not just the government, but education system as well. The occurrence of misleading news prompted the suspension of classes in some of the schools in Manila.
The Philippines ranked 12th among countries with the highest number of internet users with 67,000,000 users, according to the Internet World Stats.
As far as the trouble experienced from the misinformation regarding fake news, Facebook continues to advocate for better methods that would combat this problem.
“We are committed to fighting the spread of false news and misinformation on multiple fronts by employing a variety of tools and tactics,” said Clair Deevy, Facebook’s director for community affairs for Asia Pacific.
“They include disrupting financial incentives, taking action against fake accounts, applying machine learning to help diminish spam, and reducing the posts people see that link to low-quality web pages by providing people with easier access to additional perspectives and information,” she added.
“Stories that have been rated false by a fact-checker will be placed lower in your news feed, significantly reducing the chances of you seeing it,” said Facebook. “Pages that repeatedly share false news will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.”
She also said Facebook is trying to find a balance between how to help its users access accurate information and disrupt the purveyors of disinformation and fake news, all without undermining freedom of expression.
This is an issue that is very complex and is more difficult to tackle than bullying, harassment, and other problems. “It’s one that is much more nuanced… what we can be absolutely certain of is there is no silver bullet, there is no one solution that will fix this problem,” Simon Milner said (Facebook vice president for public policy for Asia Pacific).
Milner acknowledged some Facebook users whose intent in spreading false information is to sow division, but stressed the company is taking steps to stop them from using the Facebook service.
Most of these so called ‘fake news’ usually contain issues involving politics and certain opinions on current events, while they focus on entirely giving out their freedom of expression - however, most of them are just completely misleading and often times, contain satirical information. Blogs, as well as media posts on the other hand, is included to these types of online material. Anything which expresses invalidity or that causes violent statements to anyone is considered derogatory and in fact, is just pure allegations.
"Educating social media users and students how to spot the fakes could help online viewers sort out the overwhelming mass of information online."
People have to be smart. We cannot just believe anything that is posted online. Although information is expressed thoroughly in any aspect in our society, the spread of falsified news and erroneous information - isn’t. There are ways on how to figure out which is fact and what is not. The ability to gather authentic resources and criticize what is misleading develops the trust between credibility of news in any form online.