Looking back to a few years ago, we weren’t even familiar with the concept of ‘fake news’. But now, it’s a term that is mentioned in the press on a weekly basis, and was a major concern following the US election, which resulted in the success and inauguration of Donald Trump as the current President of the United States of America.
But are reports to be believed that this recent craze is sinister?
FACT: People have unfortunately always lied to, and within, the media. It’s a sad perception that fictitious truths tell a better story, and sell more papers – how many of us pick up a daily publication and believe wholeheartedly everything that we read in its pages? Not a lot I imagine.
This concept is so undeniably wrong, and against everything that we as a team of PR specialists believe in, alongside other credible journalists and news editors, but it is part of our culture now. Like it or not, it has become widely accepted as “the norm”.
So why has it started generating such a debate now?
The latest phenomenon of fake news is appearing to influence shifts in the political agenda, and is essentially made up of stories which are completely false and designed to cause trouble, once in the public eye.
Due to the widespread use of social media in the current age – it is estimated that 2.46 billion people are now on some kind of platform – it is far easier for this type of corrupt news to reach wide audiences, and unfortunately it is quite often believed by members of the public to be genuine.
And even top politicians are fearing the trend – Hilary Clinton, for example, argued that Donald Trump relied on fake news which supported him, to win the election. In fact, a study from Oxford University found that Twitter users in swing states in the USA were actually privy to more fictional stories than genuine ones, in the days leading up to the 2016 election, meaning her claims are not completely unfounded.
But how can we combat this moving forwards?
A London start-up, Factmata, is currently building artificial intelligence in an attempt to tackle fake news. The company’s platform will help readers score information for quality, and debate the validity of content on the web, to help them identify false stories.
However, to make the matter simpler for members of the public, the advice is not to believe everything you read. Remain smart in relation to images appearing doctored, and act curious – instead of accepting what you see on a Facebook stream, get the opinion of others too, such as friends or work colleagues.
Hopefully this will be a passing occurrence, but unfortunately that remains to be seen…………