Have you ever been in a situation where every contact is forwarding you the same message on WhatsApp about that particular thing?
As soon as you open YouTube, every video talks about that one thing.
Every notification you receive on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter tell you about that particular thing.
Have you ever seen fake news spreading with the speed of light?
You must have seen it because it is too familiar nowadays.
What is Fake News?
It is false information made up to gain the public’s attention. Fake News is created deliberately to deceive readers and influence people’s beliefs. In today’s era, when information can be transferred from one corner of the world to the other in no time, the Internet is loaded with tons of information. One cannot easily distinguish what is genuine and what is fake.
Fake News on social media is as common as Fish in Oceans. The news is presented officially so that it looks authentic and believable.
Fake News can be spread for any reason:
- To target a specific person – When news is about a particular person, it is to disrupt the reputation of that person. The purpose is to embarrass/bully them.
- To earn money – Sometimes, fake news is published to make money. When more and more people visit a website, it earns money through advertisements.
- To gain attention – Most of the time, it is done for attention. Any political talk or news of industry is spread to trigger people’s emotions and gain attention.
The only reason for the existence of Fake News is not being able to track the source of the news. There are more than 1.98 billion online websites, and about 7 million blog posts are published daily. You blink, and the world knows the news already!
Moreover, people love knowing and talking about hot topics. Fake News spreads 2x faster than genuine information because it is wrapped up in a way that people are interested in and excited to share and talk about. We are flooded with information and don’t know which portion is true and which is made up.
Also, people don’t care to look for the source of news and check if it is reliable. Illiteracy is also a reason for fake news. Illiterate people believe easily in fake news and pass to others.
Fake News on social media has adverse effects on people, which may seem small now but are pretty dangerous when seen in the larger picture.
- Competition with Real News – Fake News has reduced the impact of real news. Random fake News gets more attention than major media outlets, which is not a good sign.
- Distrust in Media – With the increase in Fake News on social media, trust in Media has been disturbed. People doubt the credibility of any information they receive.
- Distract People – Fake News is always successful in distracting people from their purpose. It is designed to manipulate people’s belief in reality. For example – News of a Shortage of Salt in India in November 2017 led everyone to rush to the market and purchase salt in bulk.
- Divides people – Sometimes, fake News is spread to give birth to conflicts between two classes of people. We have had many past incidents where people fought because of the spread of fake news.
- False Science and Technology – People in the masses start believing in false Science and Technology due to Fake News. For example, Banknotes have GPS Chips to detect Black Money was a highly discussed topic during demonetization.
Fake News is not a new concept. It has existed with humans from day one. Social Media has accelerated the speed of fake news.
Today, when everyone is connected over the internet, the news is spread worldwide in milliseconds. Since the audience of fake news is large, i.e., the whole world, the impact is more today. So, it is crucial to tackle the problem of fake news and use technology in favour of human beings.
How to Stop Fake News?
- Awareness – The main reason for fake news is the lack of awareness among the common masses. We should not believe everything we hear or see. We must know the source of information before sharing it with others.
- Strict Policies of social media – Social Media platforms are already working in this direction and need to take more severe steps. Every social media website must check the accuracy of data before approving it to be published.
- Consider the other side of the story – Every story has two sides – one which is told to you while the other which is hidden. You never know whose side the newsmaker is, so never judge and share without knowing the whole story.
- Don’t let your emotions be taken for granted – Many times, the news is built up to trigger your emotions. We end up taking the wrong steps while going with our feelings. Think about the logic before believing in everything you see online.
Fake News is a forever concept. We cannot expect it to waive altogether. However, we must put efforts into reducing the impact of fake news.
Fake news will no longer get any attention if we shift our focus from hot and spicy topics to real growth and prosperity talks. Think twice before sharing, don’t let fake news rule!