Fake News, Lies and Propaganda: How do we Sort Fact from Fiction?
To flesh out this subject of fake news, we need to return to first principles.
What is Fake News?
Why is this important?
Where does a news source fall, on the political ideology spectrum?
How do you recognize bias in yourself, as well as in the media?
How can you read, listen, and/or share news?
Fake news is a term that has come to mean different things to different people. However, to put things in proper perspective, fake news are those news stories that are fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources nor quotes!
Such stories may be propaganda, designed with intent to mislead the reader, or as clickbait to redirect readers to obnoxious sites.
This trend has mushroomed in recent years, with fake news being proliferated via social media, where they are so easily and quickly shared.
In any event, the universe of fake news goes beyond simply spreading false news stories, as some stories may appear to have some nuggets of fact, but lack any contextualizing detail. Meaning they do not include any verifiable facts nor referenceable sources.
Even so, some fake news are stories which may have some verifiable facts, but are either written using deliberately inflammatory words, leaves out pertinent details or presents only one viewpoint in an issue which requires a balanced perspective.
On that note, fake news exists within a larger ecosystem of mis and disinformation.
Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is unintentionally created or spread, with no motive to deceive.
Disinformation on the other hand, is false information that is intentionally created and spread, with the motive to bias public opinion or obscure the truth and mislead people.
Misinformation and disinformation are created and spread by people for various reasons, some of which are;
Hustlers looking to make fast money, regardless of the damage to the society.
Satirists wanting to either make a point, entertain you, or both.
Poor or untrained journalists caught in the pressure of the 24-hour news cycle and the explosion of news sites which give room for shoddy writing, that defy professional journalistic ethics.
Partisans who want to influence political ideologies and policy makers.
The technological ease of copying, pasting, clicking and sharing content online, has helped these types of articles to proliferate.
In some cases, the articles are designed to provoke an emotional response and are placed on certain sites to entice readers into sharing them widely.
In other cases, fake news articles may be generated and disseminated by bots, that is computer algorithms, which are designed to act like people sharing information, but can do so quickly and automatically.
WHAT TO DO WHEN FACED WITH FAKE NEWS?
Think critically: Evaluate the information for accuracy or otherwise.
Think twice: If you have any doubt, do NOT share the information.
Report to the authority: If it borders on national security or can sabotage the nation’s economy in any way, please call the attention of the relevant authority immediately, to forestall its spread.
Fake news is an evil wind that blows no one any good! Fake news is a social quagmire which hinders society’s development!!Fake news is a land mine which can explode on anyone, anytime!!! Therefore, follow these simple steps, to help get Nigeria out of the quicksand of fake news, for our individual and collective good!!!
LET’S JOIN HANDS TODAY TO RID NIGERIA OF THE MENACE OF FAKE NEWS