Fake News

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There is a unique marriage between social media algorithms, advertising systems, people prepared to make stuff up, all just to earn money or to win an election that can grip a nation or nevertheless the world. Misinformation, spin, lies and deceit have of course been around forever. As Hillary Clinton said "the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda flooded social media over the past year.", she further on said, "It's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences, this isn't just about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk… lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities." (Wendling, 2018) There are a number of threats to media freedom in South Africa. There is a direct threat to our journalists, as we saw in a few instances during the #FeesMustFall protests. Journalists have been physically removed from public areas and forced to delete images because of the Fake News they posted or News that they posted that had a negative impact on others. Fake News has led to the fact that media freedom can't be trusted and is frowned upon by many high-profiled journalists. Other threats to media freedom include the reduction of quality and the number of journalists is a clear threat as it prevents reliability. Thus media is being negatively affected (Bird, 2017). In 2016, Craig Silverman, discovered a line of completely made-up stories that all originated form one small Eastern European town. His team started to investigate, and shortly before the US election they discovered over 140 fake news websites which were on Facebook. After the phrase developed from a social media phenomenon into a journalistic cliché and an angry political slur (Wendling, 2018).


Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the words and images used in the news seem to be true and realistic?
  • Check the detail, Is there enough detail and proof given, does it substantiate the idea?
  • Has something similar to the news appeared anywhere else?
  • Has the journalist or creator of the news done any other work or is he/she/it known for any other material elsewhere?
  • If the news was sent to you, check if the person who sent it is where they say they are.
  • (Africa Check , 2017)
When Fake News is spotted but you still are doubting you can do the following. Firstly, ask where is the evidence (where is the proof that the incident has happened). If evidence id given, ask if the evidence is verifiable and if the evidence is sound. If there is no evidence the news most probably is fake, but if evidence is given even the evidence should be checked. Also be aware and open that you will come across critics. You can also go on a fact-checking website to declare if the news are real, like Africa-Check (Africa Check , 2017). The fake News must pretend to be real news. Its main discussion must be provably false. The intention of the creator must be negative. The effect of the article must be negative (Wet, 2018).


Companies and governments are now acting strong upon the issue, the consequences of their actions will be felt by these creators of the Fake News for some time. Buzzfeed's Silverman says "Google and Facebook have both said that they are going to be hiring a lot of people to review content and enforce their terms of service and keep fake and illegal stuff off their platform. I'm interested to see how that is actually done,". Thanks to viral political text news stories, new frontiers who concentrates on fact-checkers are taking action (Wendling, 2018). For the most part of it, the consequences lying ahead for Fake news and their creators depend on the urgency of the news shared. Most consequences are that the news should be taken down and a new article should be posted by a trustworthy Network declaring that the news was fake. The creators will pay a fine depending on the damage created or their site will be taken down (Bird, 2017). Leaving out the word Fake gives Fake News it's power, but by calling it by its true name, Fake News, we gain power over it. Denying this fight of who the power belongs to can make the difference and have an impact on the impact of the Fake News. Power is also given to the Fake news when the country or company does not act upon the news and declare it as being fake (Wet, 2018). Acting against pure fake news is possible, it can also be fun, presenting as it does a legitimate target without the risk of collateral damage. There are direct and personally satisfying courses of taking action against Fake News available. Advertisers associated with fake news websites and advertising networks that act as agents should be made aware that they are dealing with Fake News. This is also good for internet service providers who host such sites. Letter writing, boycotts, take-down demands and nuisance actions of every kind are options (Wet, 2018).

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© Nicole Robertson Gr.12