You might think you know everything about it, but fake news is complicated. People often have these wrong ideas about fake news, which may surprise you.
Misconceptions About Fake News
The following are four common misconceptions regarding fake news:
1. Fake News Comes From Social Media
Fake news spreads through social media in a big way. They remove all barriers between different sources of information, making journalists, authority figures, public institutions, and people look the same. This makes it hard to distinguish between reliable sources and questionable content.
Social media also provide social proof to content. It has to do with virality, which says that the more people like and share a piece of content, the more likely it will be enjoyed and shared again.
But alternative media is a big source of fake news. They look like news sources, but they might not follow the rules of journalism about being fair and honest. Before the 21st century, there were alternative forms of media, but they didn’t reach as many people as they do now. The problem is that they are often too political or too radical, and they may give their opinions in a way that looks like fake news.
A German study found that many people don’t know the difference between traditional and alternative media and may be using both regularly without realizing that traditional media is biased and that some information presented as fact may not be objective.
2. Fake News Is Lie
Fake news is more than just intentionally false content.
A journalist named Edson Tandoc says that how the public thinks the content is true is more important than how objective it is. In other words, it doesn’t always matter what the person who made the content was trying to do.
Tandoc says that satire or parody can be turned into fake news, even though it wasn’t how they were meant to be taken. Some sources may be lying on purpose, but how the public uses and shares information has much to do with how other sources are used.
In the same way, a piece that is based on an author’s opinion can be seen as factual even if the author doesn’t back up his claims with facts. And even when there are sources, they may not tell the whole story behind the claims debate.
3. Only Fucking Idiot Believe Fake News
A study done in 2021 tried to figure out why people believe fake news. It was found that people are likelier to feel news if they have the same political views as the source media. “Identity protective cognition” is the name for it. It is a bias that leads people to try to protect their political beliefs and value by avoiding questioning a piece of information if it might disturb those beliefs.
The study says that there is also a bias toward what is known. People are also more likely to believe something if they hear it from someone they trust.
Even though we know our biases, we don’t have time to analyze all the news stories we see daily. We must use mental shortcuts to determine if they’re telling the truth.
The study shows that we tend to believe information that makes us feel strong emotions, like fear, anger, or moral outrage. Unfortunately, it’s often the type of content that goes viral.
4. Ban Fake News!
One of the biggest problems with fake news is that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to stop or stop it without putting freedom of speech at risk.
“Banning fake news” from the web means that social media, where content is shared, needs to be regulated. It makes content moderators the ones who decide what is true or not. But moderators are not fact-checkers; even if they were, they would still have a big job because they determine who is allowed to use freedom of speech.
Also, human moderators are being replaced by bots, some of which use AI to find content that could be a problem. But taking people out of the equation will make it more likely that content about sensitive topics like health, safety, or political activism will be taken down more often. It could stop some very important conversations from happening on social media. For example, the content of activists and whistleblowers could be taken down. Moderators, who are not trained to settle scientific disagreements, could end a debate about a scientific claim.
And, as I’ve already said, the truthfulness of a piece of content isn’t just based on how true it is, which can be hard to tell in many cases, such as with personal testimonials. It’s also based on how viewers see the content. Also, the public believes information doesn’t usually come from a single source. Instead, it is often distorted by word of mouth.
If the goal were to stop fake news, content moderators would have to decide if the arguments about fake news were valid. This is another saying that people have the right to use their freedom of speech.
Fake news is complicated and exciting to study. It shows a lot about how we deal with information and what we believe as a society. It’s also a reminder that the truth isn’t something that can be easily defined. Instead, it’s a journey whose goal is part of the journey itself.
What do you think about how fake news will change the 21st century?