INTRODUCTIONFake news is a big problem in today's day and age of technology and my goal was to help people identify and not fall into the trap of fake news. In my researched I went and looked at the problem of how fake news can affect us or people around us if we choose to believe it. I also looked at how to spot fake news in our daily lives, and lastly I established a way for readers to check if news is fake or not.
Besides causing pain and suffering to people mentioned in these fake stories. Fake news can also harden stereotypes and lead people to make poor health decisions, among many other reasons (Eyewitness News & Africa Check, 2016).
According to the KwaZulu-Natal acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Bheki Langa there are still unfortunate gullible members in our communities that believe everything they find posted on social media platforms by faceless individuals and who refuse to believe authorities when told the news is fake. He says often people are genuinely taken with these stories and share them without solid proof or research and these post can cause real problems (Pillay & Janse van Rensburg, 2017).
The most people targeted by fake news are celebs like Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie and Harry Potter author JK Rowling etc. The bigger the star the more juicer the news and the bigger chance that people will repost or believe the fake news (Zeeman, 2017).
University of KwaZulu-Natal media expert Professor Jean-Phillipe Wade said the inventing and sharing of such stories is merely "an ego boost" for the people who create the stories and get people to fall for them and share them (Pillay & Janse van Rensburg, 2017).
According to media attorney Nicholas Hall, she explained to Cape Talk radio that these websites exist to make money from the ads they display. The more outrageous the story, the higher the traffic to their sites and the more money they can make (Eyewitness News & Africa Check, 2016).
There are simple solutions to stopping the spreading of fake news some being (Eyewitness News & Africa Check, 2016): • Be a responsible internet user - The internet has the potential for great good and terrible harm. It is in your hands. Play an active role in limiting the harm by doing research and making sure the content you want to share is real. • Get quality content – Don't just post everything you read and see make sure you have real solid facts that are relevant and help those around you • Support real news organizations - One reason why people choose low-quality content is because it's free, thus another reason why fake news sites make money: it costs nothing to produce, unlike the money needed to pay reporters and provide them with cars and equipment to chase a story. Take out a subscription to a news site or buy reliable newspapers • Flag false news on Facebook
To spot fake news look to see if reputable news sites are also reporting on the same story. Check for odd-looking domain names on the sites. Check the "About Us" tab on websites or look up the website on snopes.com for more information about the source. Watch out for common news websites that end in ". com.co" as they are often fake versions of real news sources nut are not the real deal. Bad web design and use of all caps can also be a sign that the news source you're looking at is not verified. If the story makes you really angry it's probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn't purposefully trying to make you angry in order to generate shares and advertising revenue (Pillay & Janse van Rensburg, 2017).
To make sure you have trustworthy and reliable news you can stay away from known fake news spreading sites like Live Monitor, iMzansi, Mzansi LIVE, African News Updates, Mzansi Stories, CitySun, Gossip Mill Mzansi, Pretorialive, South Africa Latest News, Viral Bru, Peace FM Online etc. (Eyewitness News & Africa Check, 2016).
Many stars have fought back with lawsuits but some take it into their own hands, like George Clooney when addressed "news" about his mother-in-law's disapproval of his marriage: by writing an open editorial in the USA Today in 2014 (Zeeman, 2017).
Sharing fake news stories online or spreading false information could lead to criminal charges against the committers and could result in real jail time (Pillay & Janse van Rensburg, 2017).
©Tasha du Toit