Fake news has been around for many years. However, thanks to social media, it has become a common problem. Initially, people believed that the Internet would create a democracy of information. To some extent this has indeed happened. However, the internet has also brought other phenomena such as mass deception and false information.
Fake news is always accompanied by images. Apparently they are supposed to give the story credibility. However, the images are either false or simply taken out of context. So they create an illusion of truth.
In other cases, fake news serves to spread false or inaccurate information. Special interest groups disseminate this data widely. When the information is shared on social media, readers simply don’t check it.
Extreme cases exist, such as the so-called earthquake in Peru. This information caused real panic at the time.
Why does fake news exist?
The first question is why fake news actually exists. What does a person gain by spreading false information? The answer has to do with the two goals of professional liars: to make money and discredit others in favor of their own interests.
Fake news has become a very profitable business. Sites broadcast unusual news stories and attract a lot of attention from the readers. They also have impressive titles and images.
Immediately they arouse our morbid curiosity and the rest is history. Every time a user clicks on the site, the people who create the fake news get money.
Fake news is said to have always served the purpose echoed in the old Francis Bacon quote. “Spread slander in a brutal way, something always sticks.” You can easily see this during political campaigns. The information often comes from unknown sources.
They accuse some candidates of scandals, crimes and misconduct. The information is clarified, but there is always some doubt. This is how people get influenced by fake news. Or they don’t believe the truth is really true.
The risks of fake news and false information
Fake news wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t involve risks or dangers. Accurate and verified information provides the primary resources to help us make a decision. Based on the information from the news, we also form a picture of what is happening in the world.
However, special interest groups manipulate us. They are responsible for creating fake news. They reinforce prejudices and give bad impressions of different groups of people, countries, and so on. Usually they plant a seed of mistrust.
Fake news can also trigger situations of fear or even panic. That is what happened in Peru with the so-called earthquake. This has also happened in Colombia. Hundreds of people slept in the open because they had been given false information about an impending earthquake.
Yet another example happened in Mexico. There, “predictions” of a tsunami began to circulate shortly after the 2017 earthquake.
How do you recognize fake news?
It is very important that we learn to recognize the fake news and the real information. So we must all become responsible users of the news that spreads on social media. We must not be instruments of shady interests and petty intent.
When you get information, you have to check the source first. Is it a known media source? Or is it a source you’ve never heard of? Then visit their website and research the content.
If everything is riddled with advertising and most titles talk about bizarre situations, don’t take it as a credible source. Stories with attachments are always more reliable.
Yet another tactic is to copy part of the story and put it on a search engine. It will then appear on sites that dispute the information.
Fake news is often also very emotional and full of sensation. Read what they say. Check whether the data is well supported and whether the story is well written. Don’t let yourself be manipulated!