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Danger of Fake News: The Impact on America



Fake News Is Not New

The term “fake news” has been in use for more than a century. Propaganda has been used for decades to sway the population into believing fictional stories. Fake news is shared by social media much more frequently than true information. Fake news follows that old saying, gossip does not have to be true just juicy.

A questionnaire was distributed on social media to obtain the general public’s opinion. The data suggests experts could be getting closer to a solution and that it correlates with their findings. The data also indicates that people should be educated on how fake news impacts our country.

Looking at the Data Collected

Ten questions were asked. One hundred participants responded. The data collected revealed some interesting results.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents agree fake news has a negative impact. The significance of this answer emphasizes the need for further research and taking preventive action.

Seventy-nine percent agree that social media is the primary source for spreading fake news.

Sixty-nine percent of the population believe that people are spreading fake news at a higher rate than robots. Is this the key to unlocking the fake news hold on America?

Eighty-five percent believe the public needs to be educated further to prevent fake news.

Ninety-four percent believe the trend of spreading fake news will continue. Researchers agree that fake news will continue and grow.

Social Media Thrives on Fake News

There has been an ever-growing problem with fake news due to the evolution of social media. There must be more research on ways to prevent fake news. Without further research and prevention, the current trend in fake news will continue to flourish  due to social and organized media outlets. The complex web of interactions between social networking service users, their online and offline communities, social network developers, corporations, governments as well as other institutions—along with a diversity of stakeholders with potentially conflicting motives and interests —will continue to require rigorous philosophical analysis for decades to come. Thus, there is a need to examine ways to encourage the public in finding fact-based media based on credible sources.

To Bot or Not to Bot

The fact is, bots are being used to share fake news, and it is challenging to determine the actual impact because of the complexity of the issue. However, MIT Professor Sinan Aral found that “It’s not really the robots that are to blame.” After using two different bot-detection algorithms on a sample of three million Twitter users, Aral found that automated bots were retweeting false news at the same rate as they retweeted accurate information. They also found that humans shared fake news seven times more than robots.

This research can help to persuade more people that fake news powered by social media is a serious threat. Media bias has become increasingly more prevalent in recent years. This has made it harder for the population to decide which is fake or which is true without doing research. According to Meyer, “False news can drive misallocation of resources during terror attacks and natural disasters, the misalignment of business investments, and misinformed elections.”

Business Model Truth - Follow Their Money

In the past, Facebook, Twitter, and Google have denied that their platforms had little effect on the 2016 presidential election results. Recently, they have been forced to confront the situation more thoroughly. These social media companies have the tools to stop fake news. They have chosen to not use those tools properly, due to the impact it would have on their own business model.

A single U.S. Facebook user is worth four times that of a user outside the United States. The tiny fraction of cash income per click of U.S. display advertising, which is a sharply declining market for American publishers, can mean riches for impoverished people elsewhere.

Media giants excuse their seemingly greedy behavior by claiming they are not based on a journalist platform but instead a technology-based platform. Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, argues his social network is “a tech company” and “a platform” but not a publisher. Many media experts strongly disagree with this excuse.

Fact checking is a necessity due to the amount of fake news being shared but will require a joint effort between media giants and consumers to improve current trends. More openness by social media giants and greater collaboration with suitably qualified partners in tackling the problem of fake news is essential.

By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter. The MIT study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories. The information, whether true or false, is shared based on algorithms of likes, views, and shares which makes fake news wildfires difficult to prevent.

Echo Chamber Prevention

Preventing false fires of fake news will be difficult to regulate because people tend to view information that aligns with their ideological beliefs. Such insularity is worrisome as it promotes extremism and reinforcement of ill-founded opinions. Creating an echo chamber prevents citizens from recognizing shared interests and experiences.

According to Meyer, there is little evidence that people change their opinion because they see a fact-checking site reject one of their beliefs. Labeling fake news as such, on a social network or search engine, may do little to deter it.

Is Fact-Checking a Deterrent?

According to Dr. Danielle Polage, fact-checking may not be an effective deterrent because people tend to believe things differently after a short period of time. Polage conducted a study wherein the main purpose was to determine whether repeated exposure to fictitious stimuli would cause participants to develop a false memory for having heard about the false news stories from a source outside of the experiment (Polage, 2012 p. 245). Additionally, the Polage study attempted to replicate the finding that exposure to false information changes the perceived truthfulness and plausibility of that information.

Surprisingly, after a five-week delay, participants who had read the false experimental stories rated them as more truthful and more plausible than participants who had not been exposed to the stories. The study findings show that emphasis on fake news could undermine the credibility of actual fact-based journalism. This could have a significant negative effect on broadcast news, including local television stations.

This, in turn, would diminish the resources available for editorial coverage, further reinforcing the downward trend in news media influence. Without further research and prevention, the current trend in fake news will continue to flourish due to social and organized media outlets.

The combined preliminary research shows organizations such as CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and the New York Times have ranked as some of the top offenders in 2017 and confirmed by POLITIFACT according to Jon Greenberg, Louis Jacobson, Manuela Tobias, (2018). Because these organizations will likely continue to provide fake news undermining reputable sources, then retract fake news after discovered, there is a need to examine ways to encourage the public in finding fact-based media based on credible sources.

Brace for Impact

While social media platforms are attempting to prevent robots from spreading fake news, they are not addressing the primary source -- people. According to the experts, people are the primary source for spreading fake news.

According to Professor Aral, “There needs to be more investment in quality information and actions to combat hatred, racism and intolerance; more resources for investigative reporting; more attachment to ethical values in the management and governance of media; and, not least, more training in the value of other-regarding communications within the population at large.”

People have to take responsibility. People must educate themselves, and demand news agencies report only facts. They must question the information presented and verify it. People must stop spreading fake news before it does irreversible harm to America.

Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology

John McGeever / Journalist
I am a combat veteran who proudly served in the U.S. military. I have an Associates Degree in engineering technology. I am currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in project management. Above all, I am a Republican and strong supporter of American freedom.
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  1. The epitome of FAKE NEWS is when Michael Moore, the great hypocrite and liar, includes David Hogg, the CIA plant and liar, in film about Donald Trump being the next coming of Hitler. Everyone knows the film will bomb, so they are expending MILLIONS of dollars on showing the trailer before other films, much like CNN shows THEIR fake news at airports.

    This collusion of corrupted Leftist media, communism in schools, deep-state politics, and the technology to censor and denigrate without repercussion is about the death of us.

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