Fake news, no cap?
Let’s play a little game.
‘The Covid-19 vaccine turns your body into a magnet.’
‘Japan bans microwaves over health hazards.’
‘Woman murdered her roommate for sending too many Candy Crush requests.’
‘3 Cats hold blender hostage from owners.’
‘Hillary Clinton is a cannibal.’
Question: Which headline is the odd one out?
Answer: No. 4
Why? The 4th statement is the only one that’s true.
You didn’t expect it, right? Neither did we when we read it. And that, is the magic of fake news.
It would be foolish to believe you don’t know what fake news is, because not only do all of us know what it is, we have encountered it and fallen prey to it a number of times (even if we don’t like to admit it).
Though coined in the early 1900s, fake news has probably been around for way more than just a century or so. After all, it’s just news or information that is false, right? Hard to believe those things are a recent phenomenon.
In the first century BC, Roman General Mark Antony killed himself after defeat in battle, when he heard rumours that Queen Cleopatra VII had committed suicide. Plot twist: Cleopatra had spread those rumours herself. Why? Well we won’t go down that rabbit hole.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump tweeted ‘I WON THE ELECTION!’, referring to the US Presidential election. Minutes later, tweeps corrected him on his statement because he clearly had not.
Between then and now, things have gotten better and they’ve gotten worse. Progress and innovation gave us marvels like the world wide web and a computer in everyone’s pocket. It also lent fake news the catalyst it needed: social media.
Fake News and Social Media
With its far reaching arms, social media gave us the power to post whatever we want, whenever we want and boy, have some people used that to their advantage! Social media has completely changed the power dynamic of the information world, with everyone sharing news and no one sharing accountability.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have been the pall bearers of this wave of — unchecked, running wild — information.
Not only do they allow fake news to prosper, a report by Facebook’s own researchers showed it actually rewards pages that spread it. A study by New York University and the Université Grenoble Alpes in France found that in a period of August 2020 to January 2021, pages known for posting misinformation got six times the number of likes and shares as other news publishers’ pages.
The reason? Simple. Because it indirectly translates to more profits for both the page and the platform. And TBH, profits are all that matter, right?
During the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, so much misinformation was generated that people dubbed this avalanche of fake news an infodemic — an information pandemic. A study published in Sage’s International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Journal found India produced the largest amount of social media misinformation on Covid-19, at a whopping high of 18.07%.
Now, this wasn’t that big of a surprise. But there’s one little fact about fake news up our sleeve that you probably don’t know about. Intrigued? We’ll be doing the big reveal soon. While you wait, why not give us a clap on the back.