Fake News, what is it?

Wikipedia defines fake news as:

a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation (false information), be it via the traditional print or broadcasting news media or via Internet-based social media.

Fake news isn’t new. History is littered with examples of fake news. Examples include Octavian’s 1st century campaign of misinformation against Mark Antony, and   Benjamin Franklin’s stories about murderous “scalping” Indians working with King George III spring to mind . Also let us not forget about Germany’s propaganda machine.

However with the rise of the internet and social media, we seemed to be exposed to Fake News more often and from a wide range of sources than ever before.

Its not all bad news.

Some of the big players involved in distributing information online are fighting back, trying to inform and educate people about what fake news is and how to avoid it. Here are just three examples you might be interested in.

  • Wikipedia

Wikipedia have  a great list of known fake news websites. They also have a great list of satirical news websites.

Surprisingly Wikipedia has taken the bold step of not accepting a news provider as a reliable source of information. In February 2017 Wikipedia announced that they have  banned  the Daily Mail as a source  after deeming the news group “generally unreliable”.

  • Google

Last week Google announced that they are “rolling out a new feature that places “Fact Check” tags on snippets of articles in its News results”.  Unfortunately it hasn’t reached Australia yet, I can’t wait till it does. I so want to play with it.

  • Facebook

Also last week Facebook announced they adding a box to the top of the News Feed that offers to provide tips on “spotting false news”. However this is not going to be a permanent feature.

I do find this a tad ironic as the increase in fake news on Facebook happened not that long after they got rid of their Trending News Journalism team and replaced it with an algorithm.

So what does this all mean?

Will these measures help?  –  I think so, but to what extent? The jury is still out on that one.

Will Fake News sites go away? – No, they wont. But hopefully people will get better at spotting fake news.

Interestingly, I believe the biggest thing we can take away from all this, is if you want to determine what information is reliable or not, you shouldn’t rely upon algorithms alone. Lets face it that old adage still holds true ” to err is human, but if you really want to stuff things up then use a computer”

What one really needs is a human touch. Funnily enough, Better Small Business Solutions does offer such a service. When we do your research for you, we will supply you with the best quality sources.

Interested? Please email me to find out more

 

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