Op-Ed

Dangers of Fake News

Image: Snopes

Have you ever mindlessly scrolled through your Twitter feed and encountered an intriguing, eye-catching article? Many of us have seen it through a variety of social media outlets, however, what most do not realize is that these articles contain false or misleading information used to skew public opinion or gain profit. Fake news is rapidly gaining popularity, and it must come to an immediate end.

What Is Fake News?

Our world has increasingly evolved technology for years. With this new technology and new avenues for expressing ideas, comes an overwhelming freedom to publish any sort of content at any time. Although this privilege can be a tremendously positive aspect, it can also be quite damaging. A prime example of this damaging behavior has recently gained popularity by internet scammers who publish fake news or unreliable information on the web for millions of people to access. For example, a fraudulent story was recently published that claimed Hillary Clinton, presidential runner-up was operating a child-trafficking business in Washington. Most people after reading the untruthful article could see right through it’s blatant inaccuracy. However, there are many online readers who believe fake news due to ignorance and a lack of the ability to detect the author’s dishonest information.

Where Do Scammers Publish Fake News?

The Internet is a great outlet to effortlessly share information almost instantly. This is why Internet scammers who post fake news gravitate towards the web to post their content. In addition, these authors know that they can appeal to impressionable teens who are the highest percentage of users on the Internet. A common social media application scammers use to publish fake news is on Twitter. Trendy accounts that have thousands, even millions of followers retweet these dishonest articles in exchange for profit. One retweet can be seen by countless teens, which is why Twitter is a commonplace for fake news to be quickly and easily popularized.

How You Can Detect Fake News?

Under the Constitution, people have the right to the freedom of speech. Although it may seem ludicrous that anyone can publish inaccurate content on the Internet, there is no way to abolish it. For this reason, it is crucial that younger, and even older generations remain informed on how to be able to distinguish honest from fake information. To be able to discern an unreliable article, you must fully examine the content before trusting it. First, determine whether the website itself has association with a reputable organization. This can include museums, universities, or historical institutes. Secondly, it is important that you are able to identify a specific author and a bit of information about that individual. Is there a picture of that individual? Did they go to college? Do they have a current profession? These are all essential questions that can confirm the accuracy of the information that author has published. Finally, it is imperative to investigate the content itself. Are there citations for images and information? Are there noticeable flaws in grammar or writing? Lastly, would you have the same confidence in the article as you would with an article from a popular and trustworthy journal?

As our world is changing at an alarming rate, it is vital that Internet users are aware of the dangers and deceptions that come along with the web. Fake news is a despicable way for authors to gain popularity, and must be prevented before it becomes out of hand. You can help the end to fake news by making others aware and being aware yourself. By doing so, you can help the Internet develop into a more reliable place.

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