Fake News Epidemic Within Society
‘Fake News’ as the false stories that fail to get flagged as inaccurate or just plain false in order to be considered validated, and thus are seen as more accurate. Many individuals then begin to share the misinformation taking it for facts because it has an appealing headline, or because it reinforces their viewpoint. Such an effect is particularly important given that it is extremely easier to produce misinformation than it is to debunk it. I am interested in this particular focus because false news is being spread at a much more rapid rate than ever before within the United States and misinformation itself has been known to create an emphasis on very dangerous paths. Knowledge is power, and the more notified and engaged that everyone becomes, the more efficient our society we will be for everyone. ‘Fake News’ is something that can affect just about anyone in the world; it can damage a particular cause, race, religion, etc. No one is immune to the spreading of misinformation, thus we must work together in order to mitigate its effects, as it increasingly becomes more prevalent through the enhancement of technology.
In a 2011 TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_ariser_ Eli Pariser managed to discuss what he labels as “filter bubbles” on various platforms such as Facebook. He goes on to explain that Facebook’s algorithms make it so an individual will see what interests them. They will never see opposing or challenging views because it makes it to the point where we can’t even interact with others that may have opposing views since we aren’t able to see them. This can have devastating effects on both society as a whole and its politics. More specifically, these kinds of algorithms will only lead to further polarization of politics. Facebook had an extremely bad ‘Fake News’ case present on their platform prior to the presidential election. Since we are only showed what we want on Facebook, news stories that are fabricated to satisfy the perspective of one side are much more easily passed around on one side without the other necessarily knowing about it. The sad thing is now not only is Facebook using this kinds of algorithms but Eli indicated that Google is using them as well. For example, if two people were to google the same thing, the results would differ depending on what you have previously clicked on or what interests you. If you read a ‘Fake News’ article without knowing it, chances are you are going see more of that type of news.
The ‘Fake News’ epidemic has been plaguing public consumptions of any form of news this day in society. Even news that derive from public television broadcast channels/radio wave channels are being widely affected by this, whether it be MSNBC or FOX News or an independent news source. Once one false narrative is out, it seems to spread like a wildfire throughout society if it is ‘exciting’ enough. This particular focus will revolve around motion media and could even be involved with sound media if one only consumes their news channels through the radio waves. In Daya Kishan Thussu’s informative journal known as News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment, Thussu discusses the role that certain news manages to wield and how it is increasingly different from the past. More specifically, Thussu examines how different news channels and radio podcasts have increasingly ignored more pressing issues for ones that will attract views (regardless of accuracy). Basically, if the headline is interesting, it will run through because the news have essentially become a business. Ratings are put above all in most news stations rather than keeping the public informed. Target audience seemed to be the general public, as this is general info that I feel Thussu would want to get out to as many individuals as possible. I feel the journal for the most part provides a great deal of effectiveness to its audience. However, I do feel that more research could be conducted in order to strengthen the claims made. Including examples from the past would also manage to strengthen her argument. As far as impact on the audience, I feel much more in power as well as informative since knowing and being aware of this key information. Picking up on this alone will allow me to pinpoint important news and junk.
While there has been a higher influx of false stories spread around, it is arrogant to claim that this is the first time in all of mankind that misinformation is being spread. It has happened all over the world in order to push particular agendas, while suppressing others. Therefore, I am going to focus of the spreading of ‘Fake News’ in the United States prior to the 2016 Presidential election to present day through the use of Matthew Gentzkow journal Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. The first being that “…of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favoring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favoring Clinton were shared 8 million times” (Gentzkow 2017). Next, he found that the average American adult managed to consume somewhere within the range of one to several fake news stories in the prior months to the election. Of those American adults, approximately over half of them were able to recalled seeing them and believing them as well. Finally, Getzkow claims that “…people are much more likely to believe stories that favor their preferred candidate, especially if they have ideologically segregated social media networks…” (Gentzkow 2017). Overall, an individual’s own personal bias seems to be a primary component in the epidemic that is the spreading of misinformation due to most individuals sharing a story that is labeled news however is more so of a false tabloid. Another possibility of sharing a false news story on Facebook would be because it may align with their beliefs.
In this day in age we are faced with a widespread of false news. There used to be a saying about not believing what you hear unless it’s in writing, it seems that now you cannot even believe what you read. The internet was supposed to keep us connected and informed; however, it seems to have failed in both instances. The ‘Fake News’ epidemic does not stop at the internet news but affects print and television news as well. It is now more important than ever to truly understand how to research what is real and what is not.