Who Do We Trust in the Age of Fake News?

A top time to read the news. In the morning, over coffee.

This article originally appeared in Stretch Recipes’ blog.

Fake news is in the headlines these days — but that is not new. Technology enables us to spread information quickly which is an advantage. However, the disadvantage comes when we are so excited to share a story that we do not check whether it is “fake news.” Last month, “fake news” made Word of the Year by Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary. The book committee defines fake news as “disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic” and “the incorrect information being passed along by social media.” (Source)

An example of “real looking” fake news

As a result, Americans do think that so-called fake news has the potential to cause mass confusion according to data provided by Pew Research Center.

The percentages of confusion are too high

Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that fake news is causing a great of confusion. When the average American take a break to check in on the world, some are questioning, “Is this real or fake?” while scrolling through daily headlines. Now, that’s a problem especially given the updates during a developing new presidential administration. Most notably, Google and Facebook are in the spotlight. Google, the world’s largest search giant, will ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Facebook updated the fine print in its Facebook Audience Network policy. It will not display ads in sites that show misleading, illegal content or fake news sites. While this are sensible steps in the “fake news” patrolling process, what’s to come?

After speaking with my colleagues in the news industry, the overall consensus is the same: Fake news has always been there, but, most recently technology makes it more prominent. Google and Facebook are taking strides; however, the ownness is on the reader to verify facts and check the source before “sharing” and “re-posting” to a preferred platform. But, the damage has been done. Now, when you look down at our devices for the latest update, we may second-guess whether what we are seeing is grounded in truth.