Where did the term Fake News come from?
Believe it or not, the term Fake News although made immensely popular by President Donald Trump, was not created by him, but instead, came from a town called Veles in Macedonia.
The people of Veles, Macedonia knew how to make money via Facebook Advertising. They saw the US presidential election as a golden opportunity for such advertising, and more so, specifically targeting the then candidate Donald Trump.
They started to write articles with very juicy and scandalous headlines that would make almost any reader click. And each click on a headline meant money in the bank for that sponsored article. Not a bad strategy especially when it can bag you over 10,000 euros or more per month.
What’s the problem with Fake News?
Well the answer to that lies in the illusory truth effect which is the tendency to eventually believe that false information is correct after repeated exposure
If you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually believe that it’s true.
Spreading of such misinformation, can have far reaching implications. It can lead to mass panic, impact buying, food shortages, misdirected fundraising and some have even claimed that spreading of fake news may have influenced the outcome of some national elections.
Why is Fake News so effective?
A well written headline be it sensationalist or not, along with an equally attractive and sometimes inappropriate featured image, can capture the attention of any online user.
Fake news headlines often feed off current political, natural disaster or worldwide impacting events, particularly those for which information, statistical data or other factual details is not immediately available.
Take for example, the Amazon Fires of 2019 or the Corona Virus of 2020 where the world was searching for information on these major events when needed information was not immediately available. Knowing that internet users would take any information given to them, many fake news outlets capitalized on these disasters, in an effort to make money off clicks.
What can I do?
Fake News has become the new norm and will only become more sophisticated and more difficult to identify. Soon we’ll see video edits of what seems to be a person speaking when in fact, it’s a computer generated simulation. Traditionally this technology has only been possible with high end equipment, however, in 2019, this was demonstrated using a smart phone.
Internet users need to demonstrate extreme diligence when sharing or commenting on articles that relate to disasters, politics or any other mass influencing event.
The following are some tips to follow in this era of Fake News.
Use your common sense
Before clicking on that share button, ask yourself, does this sound a bit strange or even too good to be true?
Read Below The Headline!
Many of us simply read the headline of an article and then click share without even reading the content of the actual article. This only serves to make the article more viral and you’re now contributing to the spreading of fake news.
Don’t get fooled by the image
There are many examples where the image associated with the news article doesn’t match however the image is scandalous enough to warrant a quick click of the share button without reading further.
Check the sender or author
If the message is posted from a Facebook or Twitter, check the profile pic. If the profile pic isn’t representative of the person sending the article, it could mean that the person might have something to hide. Be aware also of any personal agendas the sender may have.
Check the website address or media house name
Many website addresses are registered to look very similar to more well established websites. This is done to present a level of credibility to the fake news website.
Check if the same story is being run by other recognized media sources
If the news is real, it will most likely be carried by multiple major media houses. A quick Google search will help you figure this out.
If after all of the above, you’re still not certain about the validity of an article then check the article against any of these websites to see if the article is indeed fake: