First, consider the source, in order to detect fake news. Is it ironic or reputable? Secondly, beyond the dramatic or surprising headline, investigate a post. Thirdly, check the author’s integrity. The article is certainly fake whether the author uses a pseudo name or has fake credentials. A fabricated report still does not quote a credible source, but the citation rarely confirms the specified truth, except when it does. In comparison, in some bogus papers, the date of the report is incorrect. In addition, readers should question whether the post, particularly when the source is committed to satire, is a joke. Lastly, fake news can be identified by checking whether the reference is listed as fake by experts like Snopes.com and FactCheck.org (Kiely, and Robertson).
An article appearing on the Los Angeles Times on October 3, 2016, stated that Pope Francis was not going to endorse Donald Trump for the presidential race. Instead, the pontiff chose to advise the American faithful to “pray, study the two proposals well, and choose with a conscience” (Memoli) Later, a site called WTOE 5 News published an article claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for the race.
Clearly, the Los Angeles Times presented genuine information while the other report was a fake. To begin with, the first article is issued by a reputable source, whereas WTOE 5 News is known for publishing fabricated stories. Secondly, the WTOE 5 News piece had a provocative headline to draw the attention of readers, while the Los Angeles Times title was not so emotionally coloured. Lastly, the Los Angeles Times article cited creditable sources like A Pew Research Centre Survey and apnews.com that backed up the reported claims. On the contrary, the WTOE 5 News story made reference to official-sounding sources which did not support the statements in the article. Additionally, the WTOE 5 News report was written in July 2016 when the Pope had not made any statement concerning American elections. Moreover, unlike the Los Angeles Times article, the fake article was not attributed to a specific author. Furthermore, WTOE 5 News is labelled by its contributors as a satirical site and hence most of the articles are fabricated. Lastly, the WTOE 5 News is listed by Snopes.com as a fake news source; therefore any published story is likely to be satirical rather than authentic.
Nowadays, the fake news is harder to distinguish; therefore such make up stories are becoming more acceptable because they highlight current issues that are of interest to the readers. For example, during the US presidential race in 2016, the society was eagerly involved in political intricacy, hence highly susceptible to false information. In addition, some fake sites go as far as to mimic the URLs of the reputable ones. For example, ABCnews.com.co fake site mimics the URL and the logo of the genuine ABCnews.com news site.
Fake news disseminates falsehoods that undermine the citizens’ confidence in the democratic process (Sutherland). The misleading information causes uncertainty which enables political polarization to thrive. Moreover, fake news appeals to individual’s cognitive biases and denies them the ability to make rational decisions in democratic elections.
Kiely, Eugene, and Lori Robertson. “How to Spot Fake News.” factcheck.org, 18 Nov. 2016, http://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/.
Memoli, Michael A. “Pope Francis has advice, but no endorsement, for U.S. voters.” Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2016, http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/trailguide/la-na-trailguide-updates-pope-francis-has-advice-but-no-1475503246-htmlstory.html.
Sutherland, Keri. “Is internet “fake news” a threat to democracy?” Hanovercomms, 7 Sep. 2017, http://www.hanovercomms.com/2017/09/07/is-internet-fake-news-a-threat-to-democracy/