What is fake news? It is something that is false masquerading as the truth, at least that is what is sounds like.
Throughout the course of the 2016 election and President Trump’s first month in office, the term fake news has been gaining traction. In fact, President Trump himself has incorporated the term into his vocabulary and accused various individuals and news outlets of creating and spreading fake news.
The Guardian US edition directly addressed the topic of fake news in December 2016 with an article written by Elle Hunt. Hunt’s article, “What is fake news? How to spot it and how you can stop it,” takes a look at fake news and how it comes to be accepted as truth by the public and public figures.
Hunt defines fake news as, “a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or via social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.”
Hunt gives readers tips on how to spot fake news. Look for red flags in the domain name, such as the inclusion of “.com.co” and suspicious information in the About Us section. See if any other publication covered the story that is being reported on what those publications wrote about it.
Hunt recommends that you assesses the validity of a news source before you share any information it purports to be true.
Of course, there are some news outlets, such as the Onion, that aren’t news outlets at all. It can be difficult to differentiate between news and satire when the news becomes increasingly outrageous. Generally speaking, satire publications such as the Onion and the Bad Reporter are not attempting to trick their readership into thinking that the content they are producing is true and factual. Still, satire has been known to be taken at face value in the past and can give some readers the impression that it is intended to be real news.
Even young people, the supposed digital natives, have difficulty distinguishing between credible and non-credible online news sources, according to a study done by researchers at Stanford University that was conducted between January 2015 and June 2016. The survey looked at thousands of middle school, high school and university students and their ability to consume digital news responsibly.
“Share responsibly. Much as it might depress you to think in such terms, you are an influencer within your own social network: put in the legwork above, and only post or share stories you know to be true, from sources you know to be responsible,” wrote Hunt.
Check out the story here for more!