The news is, and should be, something that everybody reads and pays attention to. At the end of the day it is bringing you factual information about what is going on around you, whether it is war, global warming or the latest on entertainment and showbiz (at least that’s what you’d think). Depending on the source you get it from, if it is written or stated to be news then why should you not believe the information given?
In this 10 Yetis insight blog that I have been given the pleasure of writing (and I’m sure you CANNOT WAIT to read), I will be looking into the rise of fake news. Where it came from, why it started in the first place and why nowadays we need to be careful with the news we read, do our research and make sure it is true. Don’t be gullible and believe the first thing you read. Make sure your news is coming from a credible source. So anyway, let’s get to it!
What is fake news?
Fake news is pretty self-explanatory; it is completely made up nonsense.
“Why is fake news on the rise?” I hear you ask…
Fake news has been around for a lot longer than you may think. Back in the day, it was found that even Egyptian wall paintings were over exaggerated to make themselves or their stories look good.
Fake news can also be used to influence opinion; take a look at flat earthers. You know, those people that go around thinking the world's flat even though there is scientific evidence to state otherwise. Half the time these people live in bunkers because they also think the world is going to end tomorrow. They hunker down, stock-up and prepare for a life of misery and loneliness when everyone else in the world dies and they are the only ones left because ‘they were right’. It's likely they probably lead quite a lonely life believing these kinds of theories to begin with so I guess the end of the world wouldn't make much difference.
Latter years when printed press came into play, publications started to realise that they would sell a lot more copies of their paper if stories were made to sound more interesting or were just plain made up.
The main reason for fake news being on the rise is down to money. Let’s rewind back to 2016 when the US elections started. The publication BuzzFeed found an odd stream of completely made up stories that all seemed to come from the same place; Veles, Macedonia.
It was found that at least 140 fake news websites were pulling in huge figures on Facebook just before the US election started. The people of Veles found a topic that they knew a lot of people would be talking about, made up some nonsense and pushed it out worldwide knowing that they would make money from Facebook advertising. Clever little f*cker’s right?! But that’s when the term ‘fake news’ truly began being used on a regular, modern basis.
The people writing the fake news would put together hard hitting, catchy headlines that would be shocking and make people want to read more, encouraging people to click on a link that would lead to payment for certain advertising – if you read a headline and you’re instantly wanting to know more or it is really shocking and unbelievable (literally) then 9 times out of 10 it probably is, unbelievable that is. It’s otherwise known as clickbait, so it might just be worth you following up your curiosity with a Google search of the news to see if it is being written about elsewhere from a more credible source.
How to spot fake news from the real news
Whilst fake news has become more popular over the years, it has made the credibility of real news harder to tell apart as there are so many different fake news websites these days and people are sharing the fake news stories so willy nilly it has just become the norm. But how can you really tell apart the real news from the fake?
I’m not even going to sit here and pretend I haven’t fallen into the trap of it all and shared a completely made up story on my Facebook for everyone to see. I’m pretty sure everyone has done it. But the good news is we can learn from our mistakes, can’t we? A little bit of knowledge goes a long way so just keep reading if you want me to save you from further embarrassment of sharing stories that are obviously (or not so obviously) made up:
Use your head people! If a story doesn’t sound quite right, it’s because it’s probably completely wrong. Common sense is your best friend, so don’t be fooled (by the rocks that I got, I’m still, I’m still Franny from the block) sorry – it had to be done. You get the picture though…
2.Check the source
Many will make the mistake of either sharing the story instantly after reading the catchy headline or will have a read of the article and share it without checking out where the information has come from. It’s always good to check out the web address as that could play a big factor in helping you realise it is fake news. If you don’t recognise the web address or it seems a bit dodgy then don’t share the link as you’ll be spreading that fake news all over the place.
3.See if anyone else is covering it
If you are still struggling to tell if a story is true or false, the next best thing to do is check which other publications are covering it – if any. If the story even seems half believable and the source might look credible, then pop onto your Google search engine and see if there are any other sources that you know you can trust covering the same story.
4.Inspect the image
Nowadays it is even harder to tell if an image is real or fake, let alone news. With the likes of professional editing software’s we are very easily manipulated into believing certain pictures are real. Take showbiz magazines for example, so many young girls are made to believe the celebrities they idolise are of a certain size with very few imperfections, when in fact it’s just a bit of airbrushing and photo editing - but that’s a different rant for a different insight blog...
As I was saying, more than half of us won’t be able to tell if an image is real but here are a few tell-tale signs you might want to bear in mind. Main factors might be that you can see strange shadows on the image, jagged edges or it could look distorted. If your eyes are still telling you lies then you could even use the tools on Google to do an image search and see where else the picture might have been used, or why not even try Google Reverse Image Search that checks whether the image has been changed or altered in any way and used in the wrong context.
Just like a Gucci or a Fucci handbag, you get the bad fakes but then there are the good. Fake news writers have become masters of mastheads. For example, you could click on a link and it will look like it has taken you to a credible website such as The BBC or The Daily Mirror, when in reality they have just copied the masthead to make it look legit. Bear those other points in mind that I mentioned above and you should still be able to tell the difference, but unless you know about the differences you can be easily led to think what you are reading is credible and true.
The fakers have also been known to use credible celebrity faces to add fake endorsements. Martin Lewis was a prime example of this. He found himself the face of a number of ads across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MSN News and Google which were advertising energy products, PPI reclaim, binary trading and mortgage brokers. As Martin Lewis is the money man and knows everything when it comes to saving money, the fakers abused his power and took advantage of his wide audience that trust him. A lot of people lost thousands thanks to these types of ads so from the fakers point of view they did a great job, but this also gave Martin Lewis the opportunity to educate the public about these fake ads so he and the team at Money Saving Expert created articles to help guide you in knowing the real ads from the fake.
So, that’s my insight into the rise of fake news, I hope it was as insightful for you reading it as it was for me writing it!
Until next time, peace!