A week ago, the Science Magazine has done a research which shows that fake news are more reachable and viral than the real ones.
The most shared ones were fake political news and urban myths, work, terror attacks, science, fun and natural disasters. As Professor Geoffrey Beattie says, “Best gossip for people are the ones which are interesting and the last thing they question is their accuracy.”
In the past few weeks, the journalism circle has witnessed controversy over the incidence of false news and its impact on presidential elections. In addition to big players like Infowars and The Blaze, stereotypical pages such as Occupy Democrats, WorldNetDaily, The Other 98% and US Uncut have gained widespread coverage in social media because they knew how to best address their target audience.
That formula is very simple but clever. They begin by sharing an interesting title with news that will upset a certain audience or make them happy. The reader, who looks at the news, shares these news immediately in his network of friends who act like him by acting. The news are spreading like a virus in this network, regardless of where the information comes from or its authenticity. This is a classic social media strategy applied on a large scale.
Unfortunately, according to another research conducted by Buzzfeed, this type of news gained widespread acceptance through mainstream news sources during the elections.
Many people have accused social networks, especially Facebook, of allowing their spoofed news sites to spread on their platforms because the main culprits in this case are the creators of the sites that write the false news. The reason for their success is low media literacy among social network users. In the past days, Google and Facebook have announced plans to prevent the spread of false news. This is a good development, but the main part of the work should be undertaken by users.
To prevent these kinds of fake news, first important thing is to check the source and see if the report is published only there or on other sites too, as well. You have to keep in mind that anonymous writers are not trustworthy but it doesn’t mean that you can trust the ones who are written by real authors, as their accounts might be fake or hacked.