Fake news existed, we have them today and there will be even more of an issue in the future, and it has little to do with who “invented” the term.
I decided to tackle this subject while still relatively viral and before it becomes old news.
Some of you might know I live in a country called Romania (huh! I know Halloween is mainly about witches, not vampires, but guess what? It’s the “birth place” of the legendary Dracula). If you look at the world globe (and you know where to look), you can hardly spot it. But when an uninspired reporter asked Bill Gates “What are you doing in a small country like Romania?” he quickly replied and emphasized: “You are not small!“. See the difference of perspective and perception?
Less than 30 years ago and beyond there were no fake news in my country. There were official news. Sometimes true, but often times outrageously fake. So, if anyone has an interest to see the evolution of fake news, they should take a trip down the memory lane (or to the archives).
In many corners of the world, including in my country, diversity of opinion is allowed, even encouraged. But what we witness nowadays is not diversity, it’s polarization. You’re either with us or against us. No middle ground, no moderate voice that can be heard (if we don’t count silent voices).
Where will this go, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t look good, and history seem to support this probability.
Now, how does it affect us working online?
You probably heard people you look up to saying “Don’t watch the TV news, they are focusing on the negative!”. True and their focus on the negative is scientifically proven to increase their ratings. Some of us may have taken the advice of avoiding negative TV news which practically means all TV news.
Except the negative and sometimes fake news now follow you where you hang out. You take your news from online sources, they are there, you read blogs, you can’t escape, you go to social media, likewise.
It is relatively easy to create fake viral content with the appearance of legitimacy.
Many news sites have security flaws and inserting a new entry into their database is not complicated for an attacker with the right set of skills. The news site is then quoted by many other sources (because it’s a trusted source), and the fake news reaches blogs and then social media. Regarding social media, there are specialized bots, usually sold as underground services, which can rapidly increase the likes, shares, re-tweets etc., using fake accounts and after that, based on the viral effect of people “liking” what is already popular. Except in this case it’s not popular, it just seems to be.
I know it’s difficult nowadays, but until you dig deeper, try to be a skeptic about outrageous news or too-good-to-be-true offers. And don’t like or share important posts based on the image or title, read some content first. There are not rare cases when a title says something and the content something else, if not the exact opposite.
I know it’s not October 31st yet, but have I spooked you for Halloween or what? :P