How Social Media Has a Fake News Problem
You’ve probably heard the words “fake news.” Since the 2016 presidential election, the term has been frequently used to describe news articles. Although news published by legitimate news sources may not have been as fake as claimed, fake news has still been a major problem on the Internet.
Netflix’s new documentary, The Social Dilemma, discusses the prevalence of fake news on social media channels. But what, exactly, is fake news?
What Is Fake News?
Although some use the term “fake news” to describe any news that they don’t like, what it actually means is false information that is presented as true. Typically, fake news has a goal of negatively influencing something or negatively impacting someone’s reputation. Sometimes, fake news is aimed simply at making money because the headlines are clickbait, designed to lure in viewers with sensational headlines that are either heavily exaggerated or not true at all.
Who Publishes Fake News?
Sometimes the people posting fake news are individual users who are simply sharing something they’ve read, not realizing that it isn’t true. Others share fake news for malicious reasons. Sometimes, fake news comes from foreign sources intent on influencing an event, such as the presidential election. It can be difficult to shut down fake news websites when they’re hosted in foreign countries where American laws have no jurisdiction.
Why Is Fake News a Problem on Social Media?
Fake news is a problem on social media because it’s sensational. Fake news is a lot more newsworthy than real news and because its headlines are often clickbait, fake news articles can trend a lot more quickly than real news can. In addition, many people believe what they read on social media. These fake news articles often receive more engagement than real news because they’re more exciting.
Social media is a great place to share content. Many social media sites, such as Facebook, include sharing news in their mission statements. However, if something doesn’t violate the social media platform’s guidelines, people can post whatever they want, whether it’s true or not. There isn’t necessarily any feature of the social media site that tells people how credible a source is. Many users don’t take the time to do that research themselves.
How Can We Combat Fake News?
Because social media is increasingly becoming how people get their news, whether it’s real or not, it’s important to address fake news. It may not be possible for social media platforms to police what people are posting and prevent fake news from disseminating on their websites. That may mean it falls on users to learn how to tell the difference between real and fake news.
What Can Businesses Do to Combat Fake News?
Businesses can help to combat fake news by ensuring that all of their content is from reputable sources. Ensure that any blog posts are well-researched. Link to your sources. Even if fake news gets more engagement, we can help combat its spread by sharing more real news. Lies may spread more quickly, but posting the truth can help give readers an alternative and may make them think more about believing what they’re reading without checking to see if it’s real.