By Morgan T. McCulley
One of the worst things we face in a modern day society is fake news. The label is thrown around a lot these days, but what is and isn’t fake news? How do you know that “credible” sources wouldn’t lie to you? What even is a credible source these days? These are all extremely important questions. The internet has so many sources for biased info and “alternative facts”–it can get straight up confusing. However, if you know what to look for, sifting through the internet for reliable information can become as clear as day.
To overcome the obstacle of fake news, one has to understand what it is. Fake news is a form of misinformation that can spread to all types of media as a tool of yellow journalism or propaganda. This yellow journalism is reporting not based on concrete facts, but instead uses eye-catching and sensationalized content to attract consumers, thereby making the media outlet money. It is used to mislead people with false headlines and information so they can grab the attention of a lot of people, as well as damage an entity or person, often to gain politically or financially. It’s a simple, yet extremely effective, tactic and is used by a number of sources despite the negative effect it can have on credibility.
Unfortunately, fake news is a part of a much bigger problem that all countries face because of the internet. This problem utilizes warfare-like tactics that could be more dangerous than a cyber attack. The constant spread of misinformation and half-truths is giving a distinct rise to information warfare. It uses many tactics of psychological warfare, but through the webs of technology, manifesting as a manipulation of data, or propaganda. As such, fake news is a broad term that encompasses all of the above and more. That said, it definitely is nothing new. Fake news was used in China before it was used in the Western world, mostly to silence thoughts against the government.
To put this into perspective, fake news is a dangerous tool that undermines both governments and their citizens. When left unchecked, it creates a scorched Earth effect in which citizens are left scrambling for accurate information. How do they navigate through all of these challenges? The answer is fairly simple.
What we need to learn from all of this is that the world is full of lies and truths. It is our responsibilities as consumers to constantly question and investigate the information we are presented with. Even things that seem to be true need to be looked at in order to avoid falling victim to our own biases. Consume from multiple sources with a variety of leanings so that you can figure out the objective facts of the case on your own. We live in a world where trust in the media is becoming harder to come by for some. The only way we can combat this is by working thoughtfully and diligently to present ourselves with diverse perspectives.