Why knowing how to spot fake news is really important

By December 11, 2018 No Comments

Fake news affects you. Yes, you.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, you will have heard the term “fake news.” Pretty much coined by the US President, who drops it into a tweet or a press conference seemingly every other day, the fake news phenomenon has taken a life of its own and has already dramatically shaped our reality.

Many people think that it doesn’t affect them, because they can see through inaccurate information and that it’s obvious when what’s put before them is fake. But here’s the kicker: it’s not. See, fake news is like art forgery. When done well, by the right artist, people will pay millions for a beautiful copy. And they will be none the wiser.

And the twisted thing about fake news is that many times, it’s not a blatant lie. Every great liar will tell you that, in order to convince the masses, a brilliant lie must contain at least a bit of truth. And then, of course, the liar builds onto that by preying on people’s background, beliefs, fears, etc.

Take the anti-vaccination movement: one corrupt doctor published a so-called study linking autism to vaccines, a document many times debunked since then. Still, because of the machines spreading misinformation around the world, parents are now refusing to vaccinate their children. The result: 100,000 estimated deaths from the measles alone in 2017.

You can fight fake news

And one of the main problems with fake news, apart from being written in a believable manner in many cases, is that people invariably ask the question “why would anyone lie about that?”. And when the answer is not immediately clear, they tend to believe what they read.

The reasons, indeed, are many times unclear. Agendas are set at high levels and, often, they aren’t apparent. Still, we need to find ways to first protect ourselves against these dangers, and then start fighting back.

The first step? Talking about it.

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