Understanding the rise of fake news

The perks of Digital Public Relations
Reputation & Crisis Management Gaining Ground

Understanding the rise of fake news

October 25, 2019
Published by: Snenhlanhla Ndudula

During this modern age there has been a rapid increase of fake news online. However, it is important to note
that fake news is not new, it has been around even during the early days of print media, but was amplified
more now because of digital media. The topic also came under the spotlight even more in 2017.
What is fake news?
Fake news is news that is created purposely to misinform and deceive readers. It causes confusion,
influences the public’s views, and pushes political agenda. Mostly people who benefit from this are online
publishers, as the internet is a hub of information that the whole world is dependent on for news.
Before going digital, traditionally we received our news from reliable sources, and journalist’s that followed a
strict code of conduct for journalism. However, the internet has now opened an avenue for information and
news to be published and shared, sometimes with minimal regulation and editorial standards.
Social media has also played a part in fuelling fake news because of its characteristics such as speed,
magnifying popular topics and novelty, ability to publish anything online and reaching large audiences.
Furthermore, with factors like lack of understanding about how the internet works and information overload
online, determining fake news online and on social sites has now become a difficult task.

We have put together a number of pointers that can help you analyse news or content online. These
are the various types of news you should be aware of:

  • Clickbait- Stories that are intentionally made-up to gain more website visitors and increase advertising
    revenue for various websites.
  • Propaganda- News that is created to intentionally deceive audiences and push a biased point of view
    or political agenda.
  • Misleading Headings- Stories that are not completely incorrect can be slanted using misleading or
    sensationalist headlines. These types of stories normally do very well on social media.
  • Biased/distorted News-Many people are drawn to news or stories that confirm their own beliefs or
    biases and fake news can prey on these biases. Social media news feeds tend to display news and
    articles that they think we will like based on our personalised searches.

We have also compiled a list of ways to assist you determine what is fake and credible news:

  • Check sources of the story whether they are credible and whether you recognise the website that
    published the story.
  • Look beyond the headline. Check and read the entire article, many fake news stories use
    sensationalist or shocking headlines to grab attention. Often the headlines of fake new stories are in all caps and use exclamation points.
  • Check facts. Fake stories often have incorrect dates or different timelines. It is also a good idea to
    check when the article was published.
  • Check whether it is satirical. Satirical sites are popular online and sometimes it is not always clear
    whether a story is just a joke or true.

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