Our world is changing. In this new era of technology, the internet community has made sharing and consuming news easy. On the one hand, it has simplified information production and dissemination. On the other hand, the increasing use of mobile devices and news-sharing platforms have become breeding grounds for false reports. Sham or misleading stories like Pizzagate are designed to manipulate people’s perception of reality. Interestingly, it is a tool employed by the government, organizations, and common people to stir up and intensify conflicts. Nothing pleasant ever comes from false news. But knowing the facts, reasons, and dangers is worth exploring.
Facts About The Influence of False Information
The Oxford English Dictionary added ‘fake news” to its dictionary in 2019. But it existed long before then. Between 2016 – 2017 alone, the term increased by over 365%. It became popular during the US presidential campaign in 2016, but it has been around since the 19th century.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, half of a global sample expressed concern over what is true or false on the internet. The outbreak of the virus was accompanied by a large number of misleading stories surrounding the origin, deaths, vaccines, etc.
A study by Loughborough University’s Civic Education Center discovered 42.8% of news sharers admitted to spreading inaccurate news stories. The study reported the ones who did were motivated by various reasons in attempts to sway a section of the community.
Technology has made it so easy to create and share stories. Decades ago, you required access to a printing press or similar large investments to create false reports. Today, you can do it at the click of a few buttons. In response, companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook launched reporting and flagging tools to reduce the number of inaccurate stories shared on their platforms. But this has not clamped down completely on false reports.
Main Reasons for Fake News in Social Media Platforms
Hoax reports started as propaganda by people in power to support a belief or position. The internet community has created an environment where people with an agenda can publish falsehoods as if they were true. The motivations as to why are as numerous as the people sharing them.
To understand why people share false narrations, we must understand what constitutes a fake news story. For college students, professors sometimes require undergraduates to write an article about fake news on mass media to improve their understanding. If you need help with your effect of fake news on social media essay, take inspiration from samples described in essay about misinformation in social media by experts. Students use it to draft their topic, structure, and tone. Since the article on fake news was completed by professional writers, it will help save time writing your paper on fake news.
Any false narrative published and promoted as true is a sham. The intent can either be to harm or spread falsehood. There are three parts to false reports. They include:
- Misinformation: people share false information they believe to be true. As a result, they don’t intend to spread harm but are victims of incorrect information.
- Disinformation: In this case, the sharer manipulates real stories to cause harm. The motivations include money, control, or desire for disorders.
- Malinformation: This occurs when you take true information and spread it out of context or with malicious content. For example, you are manipulating facts or divulging private information to fit a false narrative.
One of the biggest influencers of false narration is that internet platform structures reward users for sharing information. Users who spend time online and share information frequently attract attention, and it soon becomes a habit. For politicians, the goal could be to improve their image, sway public opinion, or damage their competitor’s image. Companies spread false information to guide customers, demand and improve their economic standing.
The reasons for false reports depend on the goal of the individual responsible. But in all cases, it results in distractions, intensifying conflicts, and mistrust.
What Are The Dangers of Fake Reports?
As we explained above, not all false information is shared with malice. Regardless of the innocence, it can be damaging and dangerous. The Pizzagate conspiracy is such an example.
In the infamous case, false information and comments attached to it moved one man to shoot up a pizzeria. Somehow, thousands of people were convinced the highest levels of the Democratic Party operated a pedophile ring out of the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant. One man eventually traveled hundreds of miles with an AR-15 assault rifle to “self-investigate” and opened fire. Thankfully, he did not kill anyone but still bagged 4 years in jail for gun charges.
The result of false stories varies depending on the scenario. The potential dangers of disinformation are subtle. But it is amplified in some cases of malinformation. For example, someone publishes a person’s private address, putting them in physical danger.
False news articles ultimately drive beliefs and decisions. During the pandemic, it ballooned public fears and led to the character assassination of prominent political figures. Narratives and personalities that did not agree with projected narratives were bullied. So how do you protect yourself?
The most appropriate way to protect yourself from false reports is to trust a piece of information after verifying it. Never take an idea at face value. Do the following instead:
- Consider the source and objectives.
- If the source is trustworthy, check supporting news sources.
- Don’t rely on one source, but conclude with multiple authors.
- Research the author of a post and authority within their field of expertise.
- Check the publication date to ensure recency and comments for legitimacy.
- Be objective with the information.
- Check to know if someone funded the article.
- Do not repost if you cannot confirm the authenticity of the article.
False information is rampant in digital circles, and there is little anyone can do about it. But you should learn to recognize it and avoid the pitfalls. When you see false information, block and report the source or politely inform them in case of misinformation. Thankfully, modern platforms use AI to crack down on false information and create a safer space for everyone.