Free 790 words essay on Fake News for school and college students.
Investigating fake news: the story behind sensationalism
Fake news is defined as a kind of yellow journalism that consists of unfounded rumors or even fabrication, and is intended to misinform and deliberately mislead. This is distinctly different from news satires or news spoofs. Fake news usually aims for sensationalism, or is spread in order to discredit a person, entity, or agency, or for the purpose of gaining political power or financial success. Fake news is characterized by catchy headlines that usually exaggerate the news stub in order to gain attention. Usually, the news is either conjured out of thin air, or an existing piece of news is exaggerated all out of proportion. In this article, we will take a long, hard look at what fake news is and how it affects our society.
History of fake news
There is of course nothing new about fake news. Previously, fake news was circulated among the people in the form of pamphlets, and contained sensational stories that were not in the least bit true about political opponents and business rivals. These stories were either spread through pamphlets or through newspaper stories that went ‘viral’. Recently, however, fake news stories have received a rebirth in modern media, thanks to its ubiquitous presence in international media. So much so, tat fake news has become worthy of debate in international platforms, with people calling it a serious threat to the credibility of all news sources.
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According to some people, the problem lies with the medium through which the news is being spread. This actually makes complete sense. Certain social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are used by millions of people worldwide, and there is no censorship on the posts made by the users in their own pages and handles. Neither Facebook nor Twitter have any mechanism in place to monitor the content that is being posted online, and actual users and even self regulating bots are free to post anything they like. Thanks to the staggering number of people who use these social media websites, and the immense connectivity these sites offer, it takes no time for such posts to go viral, irrespective of their veracity. In fact, the ‘news’ items often gain credibility solely on the merit of the number of people who have seen and believed in them.
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Limited brain capacity
However, it is not just the medium that is to be blamed. According to a recent study published in a journal, the human brain has been found to be quite limited in its capacity to distinguish between real and fake news. This explains why the most popular posts on social media are the ones that are shared and believed in the most. It is because the human brain fails to recognize the real news items when faced with a huge variety of articles all posing as real news, and uses the simple but often inaccurate methods of distinction such as popularity and attractiveness, instead of going by quality and authenticity. This is why it is easy to attract attention and gain credibility by publishing articles with a very sensational and eye grabbing title but with very little actual content. These fake news items become very difficult to debunk, thanks to the fact that they gain an aura of authenticity and credibility through the sheer number of people that they reach.
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Fake websites pose as the real thing
On the other hand, for the layman who relies on the internet for getting the daily news in local and global current affairs, it might not always be possible to distinguish between real and fake news articles simply because of the fact that a lot of fake news websites are made to closely resemble a real news website. Now it is to be kept in mind that these news websites are not always conjuring things out of thin air, but often tweak and stretch the truth to a point where it becomes a piece of yellow journalism; a sensational piece of writing that is intended more to shock and titillate than to inform. It becomes even harder to distinguish between real and fake when the fake news actually is rooted in reality, but the news content is twisted to look like an insightful, albeit controversial, piece.
The impact fake news has on the world is staggering. To begin with, it completely distorts the truth, and the public has no way of understanding which version of events is true. Moreover, it discredits completely honorable intentions and takes innocuous comments out of context. Thankfully, awareness about fake news is also on the rise. Recently, it was announced that Facebook and Twitter are working on some new algorithm tweaks that will help them and the users take down misleading and fake articles.