WHAT IT IS
- Fake news is the deliberate fabrication of facts that are manipulated to appear credible.
- Social media has compounded the frequency of fake news, given that most platforms are unregulated.
- With many websites relying on algorithms to auto-populate content (via click through rates, etc.), the creation of echo chambers has been brought to light.
- Fake news is a global issue.
WHY IT MATTERS
Fake news can take many forms and factors including auto-population of content and echo chambers. These factors perpetuate illegitimate stories. A recent study done by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education examined students’ ability to differentiate fake from legitimate news, and revealed alarming results. Difficulty distinguishing between true and false stories appeared to be caused by tactful ways in which the news was displayed, not based on the facts themselves. For students, the ability for many news sites to easily dupe, combined with social media’s viral tendencies, means fake news could pose a serious threat to the legitimacy of information both in and outside the classroom.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- Companies like Facebook and Google have denounced fake news and increased efforts to diminish perpetuation
- Because fake news is a relatively new concept, only time will tell if matters get worse or if efforts to decrease dissemination will have direct effects
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Where does one draw the line between fake news and bad reporting or media bias?
- Do the positives of a more dynamic media outweigh the negatives of less quality control?
- Aside from reporting, what does fake news mean for other areas of life (i.e. science and religion)?
- Where does the fact checking end and the death of sarcasm and irony begin?