- By Dwaipayan, 18 September 2020 | 7 MIN READ
On the internet, empirical truth and emotional truth can be extremely confusing. You may well term it as yellow journalism or exaggerated information; we have had always loved it. Fake news sounds interesting and somewhere the dark side in all of us makes it even more welcoming.
In Sicily, during the 2017 G7 Summit, a post on Twitter revealing that the US President Donald Trump did not wear a translation headset while the Italian prime minister was addressing a speech. Implications: Trump’s never bothered to hear the other leaders of the world! The story was debunked a day later by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer by sharing images that the President was indeed wearing a micro-sized earbud in his right year. The tweet was later corrected but no match to the 19000 viral tweets juxtaposing the counter attempts!
In a recent event, a viral message in social media was claiming that a student from Pondicherry, India has found COVID-19 cure. The post scorched viral on social media – A student named Ramu a fake newsmaker from Pondicherry University found a cure for COVID-19 approved by the World Health Organisation. Accepted by people around the world. But the message does not hold any truth.
Searching for 'corona vaccine/remedy' on Google in India scores several fake claims not backed by any reputable health organization. Social media has apparently become a hub for users to share messages with no element of truth in any sense.
In a reported recent study of 3,400 Facebook users sharing such behavior, two researchers from New York University discovered that during election season, individuals older than 65 pooled more fake news items on average than any other group. The fact was found consistent regardless of party affiliation, education, or overall posting activity. Data revealed that the population’s lower levels of digital literacy were the reasons to disseminate fake news.
Fake Viral Videos
Psychologists are still trying to understand what drives fake news? According to a report by Avaaz (A non-profit Organisation) concluded that political fake news garnered more than 150 million views in 2019-20. While a study by Dartmouth University computer scientist Soroush Vosoughi, Ph.D., and associates found that fake news videos reach more people and act as a catalyst in making things go viral.
Psychologists and behavioral researchers say that fake news has key implications in politics, but also thrive in areas such as health and nutrition, climate science, and financial information,” tells David Rand, Ph.D., a professor of management science and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT.
Political Fake News
Political fake news is aligned by participants’ political preferences. People are more likely to fall prey because of lazy thinking and a conscious or subconscious desire to protect their political views and identities. The reason being the idea that people’s cognitive processes are prejudiced toward trusting things that conform to their worldview.
What does it take to distinguish fake news? Well, the answer may lie in the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) that could distinguish fake news from real news. It indicates what skills are required to identify fake news, namely, the skill to reflect before responding rather than drawing a quick conclusion as most of us do often. But it’s not easy, especially when the fake news is created by a professional.
We see several human lynching cases, hate-mongers trying to destabilize societal norms over social media posts. The panic that civil society will be undermined by a false narrative supported by fake news websites can be boisterously damaging. People’s beliefs are influenced by what they perceive to be facts. Most of us are not likely to check the veracity and go by the gut.
Spun from social animal to social media animal, we somewhere exhibit our animal impulse to ruthlessly display extreme pleasure by scattering fake news. We do enjoy fake news memes and don’t miss any chances of getting carried away by the fake news articles.
Fake news websites, fake news channels, and fake YouTube channels with misleading thumbnails are found everywhere on the internet. Some of us of course consciously put big efforts around social media platforms as how to spot fake news and put it to other’s advantage.
Is it the identity crisis that’s making fake newsmakers to post bogus news? or are they just doing it out of their shadowy interests?
Give it a thought and you will find it is hard to spend any time on the internet without noticing the ways we’re all actively contributing to the racket. When we catch ourselves sharing a factually problematic headline just because it “[feels] so right,” It does not matter whether truth matters in the face of our desire to vent out. Of course, we could make a good faith effort to double-check the events we post and own up to our blunders when we slip up.
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