The Responsibility of the Spread of Fake News
“Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide.”
“Denzel Washington Backs Trump in the Most Awesome Way Possible.”
What do these articles have in common? They are both a part of fake news, a widespread trend that is growing by the minute in our country, especially ever since the nomination of our current President, Donald Trump.
Fake news. Clickbait. We have all heard of it or have saw it in one way or another. Even President Trump has spoke about it, calling out the media for their “fake” articles. He even calls CNN, a major media company, fake news. That, of course, is up to your own interpretation. If you haven’t heard the debate about fake news or looked into the issue yourself, then you may not know what it actually is. You may ask “What is fake news? How is it spread around so quickly? Can I spread fake news? How can I prevent it? Who takes responsibility for it?”
Fake news is any form of news, whether it is an article, poll, or an incorrect statistic, that is written about and is then promoted and spread around like wildfire. Usually these articles have clickbait titles, such as the two articles I mentioned in the beginning, where the author uses certain words or ideas to catch a normal reader by surprise. The titles are meant to make a reader say “Wow, he/she did that?” or “What the heck is this?” This makes the reader have to click on the article, hence the term clickbait. Once the reader is there, the author has already made money off of advertisements on the website, but from there is where we, as the readers, come to play a part in the spreading of this fake news. We read the article and seem to believe it, or maybe just think it is funny how completely absurd the article is. At the end, though, we see the option to “share to Facebook, Twitter, etc” and we then decide to post it to our timelines so that all of our friends can see it. Then, one of your friends reads it and shares it, and then one of their friends reads and shares it, and the cycle begins. Thousands and thousands of clicks on the article, and whether it was the reader believing the content of it or just sharing it as a joke, it gets spread like wildfire.
“Can I spread fake news?” Chances are you already have. We see fake articles on almost every social media platform, and whether it is liking or sharing it on Facebook or giving it a retweet on Twitter, we contribute to the spreading of these false news articles. So how do we stop it or prevent it from happening again?
The bottom line is: We can’t. Fake news will never stop being written, so long as there is a market for making money off of it. My English Comp II class has been looking into the issue of fake news and found an article where an 18 year old boy from Macedonia, living in a town that’s average annual salary was around $4,800, made close to $60,000 in just a few months off of political fake news. In the article, he also says that he isn’t even one of the top earners of this stuff, also. But the fact of the matter is this: We can’t stop the writing of fake news. What we can do, however, is stop the spreading and marketing of it. Stop retweeting or sharing the article. Start educating ourselves on what fake news is, and how to recognize it. Try fact checking more often. All of these things can be done to slow the spread and growth of fake news, but it will never stop it, that’s just not possible.
Now most of my focus has been on you, the people. This is because I believe that we play a large role in the spread of this fake news, and we should then be educated enough on how we are spreading it, that way we can stop it, or at least slow it down a bit. We do not hold the sole responsibility for fake news, however. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and any other social media platform hold responsibility as well. Mark Zuckerberg is continuously trying to find new ways to stop the spread with Facebook, but also highly encourages the readers to stop sharing the articles if you know it is fake. Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter is also trying to stop this fake news trend, but also comments that “the people have just as much of a responsibility in the spreading of fake news as Twitter does.” The companies recognize that they are at fault, which is good, it’s progress. They are doing everything they can to try and stop it. But it is now our responsibility to do our best in trying to as well, since it is as much our fault as it is theirs.
Fake news has arguably impacted our views on certain people, issues (both political and moral), and our elections. It’s authors thrive on the ability of the people to not recognize what’s fake and what’s not. Hopefully after reading this you go out and educate yourself further on the issue, or if you are already well-educated on the topic of fake news, you go out and spread your message and knowledge with everyone else, as I have tried to do. We have the power to slow down the spread of fake news, and together we can, we just have to learn to recognize and take responsibility for it first.