Unveiling the Challenge of Fake News in the Digital Age
Be Prepared for Combating Fake News on The Internet
People in Twenty-first Century can get a lot of information on the internet, allowing him or her to study work and address personal issues. The internet is also similar to a post office, which lets people send and receive emails. The internet has brought about a paperless age and has also increased the speed at which one access or spreads information. There are various search engines that one can use to get information in a few minutes. By comparing it to print media such as books, the web is superior as it saves the time required for studying or working. Even though the internet has brought a lot of conveniences to human society, it also has some disadvantages that cannot be ignored.
The imperfection of the administration and monitoring of the internet has led to the spread of false information by both individuals and organizations for personal gains and selfish interests or with the aim of attracting attention. On the one hand, misinformation can mislead the internet to trust specific websites. On the other hand, if the phenomenon cannot be solved, the user of the internet will no longer trust the information available on the web. Fake news has appeared on the internet in different forms to attract readers’ attention. However, as a reader, one should evaluate the sites carefully and be skeptical about what is available online to avoid misleading or false information.
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Fake News: A Historical Overview
Fake or biased news has existed since the beginning of human history. The people that control the flow of information can create fake stories to influence the public perspectives or regulate the treatment of a specific group in the community. According to the book, Influencing Machine, the author Brooke Gladstone describes ancient Chinese society. He asserts that there are no journalists in every place for written language emerging in Sumeria China, only Scribes that he describes as Publicists (Gladstone 3,4). Thousands of years ago, people wrote on different materials, such as bones, stones, or clay. Originally, they used the slates to record daily events and historical accounts. The scribes were treated with respect, and they amassed wealth and gained a positive reputation because they had the right to control the content of the texts.
They controlled the rights to get knowledge, information, and the approaches of expression in the community. For instance, in the article “Combating Fake News in the Digital Age,” Joanna Burkhardt asserts that “Some of the information that has survived, carved in stone or baked on tablets or drawn in pictograms, extolled the wonder and power of the leaders. Often these messages were reminders to the common people that the leader controlled their lives”. Through using the messages, leaders in the past expressed information that would promote respect among the public and allow them to perform their duties smoothly. The people had limited information about their lives and believed that the information carved in the stone or baked on tablets was correct without verifying it. It shows that people in the past created biased information to exert public rule.
The Digital Era: The Rise of Fake News in Modern Society
In modern society, people have more access to information that they need but often do not verify whether it is true or not. Without verification, there is more fake news spreading mainly through the internet. According to the article “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election,” Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow provide a list that reveals that more and more people get news from social media. The article shows that 62 percent of US adults get news on social media, the most popular fake news stories were more widely shared on Facebook than the most popular mainstream news stories, and many people who see fake news stories report that they believe them.
The data shows that 62 percent of people were more likely to read news about the 2016 election from online sources, and they deemed the news as credible. Then, they shared the news with friends or family. However, many people responded that they wanted to share the link because it was interesting but did not consider whether what they spread was fake or biased. That influences people’s perspectives concerning a specific agenda or issue. Gladstone mentions, “And now the internet can act, easily, even influence how those stories end.” It is true that because of the convenience of the internet, everyone plays a role in the spread of fake news and can unknowingly influence various consequences. No matter the kind of media a person subscribes to, he or she does not want to convey information confusing people’s perspectives.
Misrepresentation of Africa and the Role of Media
In the video “The Danger of A Single Story,” Chimamanda Adichie, A Nigerian short story, nonfiction, and novel writer, claims that if people express their information inaccurately, it can lead to negative consequences for their lives. Adichie establishes that many people have a misunderstanding about Africans’ lives, even some renowned authors. She gets a quote from the writings of a London merchant called John Lok, who says that “Africans are also people without heads, having their mouth and eyes in their breasts.” People hear different impressions of a specific issue and make judgments depending on what they hear and see.
Lok doesn’t reveal the true characteristics of Africans but instead expresses a wrong message to mislead people’s perspectives. This biased information is created because Lok doesn’t have an accurate depiction of the continent and just writes based on his imagination. He subjectively thinks that Africa is a place of negatives, of difference, and of darkness. In the Internet Era, people can have more access to verify if Africa is that bad a place. One can make a judgment based on what they read on the internet. Therefore, if this new bias is expressed, those who do not carry out fact-checking are more likely to be misguided.
- Gladstone, Brooke. The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
- Burkhardt, Joanna M. “Combating Fake News in the Digital Age.” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, vol. 30, no. 3, 2018, pp. 121-127.
- Allcott, Hunt, and Matthew Gentzkow. “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 211-236.
- Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The Danger of A Single Story.” TEDGlobal, July 2009,