How do you combat fake news? How do you tell whether what your news source is saying is true? For those who don’t know much about news media and outlets, it might be kind of hazy to decipher what the “real news” is. President Trump has notoriously called out CNN and MSNBC for being “fake news” while ironically favoring Fox News and Breitbart (which have a long history of actually reporting fake news).
So what is so bad about fake news? First, it misinforms people assuring them what they’re reading is true when a lot of fake news tends to rely solely on misinformation and opinion-based articles presented as facts. Fake news was all too present during the 2016 election as many fake news websites sprang up with outrageous claims. If you go around asking people, you might find that some still believe some of these click-baiting headlines.
“FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead,” is a very popular article that some may still believe to be true. It has been debunked by many fact checking websites as none of it is actually true. This article ended up being shared over half a million times on Facebook. This story originated from a site called The Denver Guardian, which is a thrown-together website founded by a man named Jestin Coler. The website has links that don’t even work with a fake street address. Also worth noting, Jestin Coler, the founder of this website is also the founder of a long list of fake news websites such as ABC.com.co, DrudgeReport.com.co, usatoday.com.co, Firebrand Left, Conservative Frontline, and International Report. He will mimic the URL of actual news sites such ABC and USA Today among others.
Mattie Lakey (’17), admitted that she believed this story because her mom saw it on Facebook. “I think fact checking websites would be a good thing to use everyday…It will help create non-bias news and actually be informed rather than entertained.”
Vanessa Elliot (’17), says she has seen plenty of fake news like one that said Beyonce was dead a couple of weeks ago. “I think that especially for this generation, everyone believes what they see on the internet. I think fake news can be harmful if it sounds a tad bit realistic.”
Conspiracy theories are also becoming very popular now on YouTube as every once in while your favorite YouTuber will come out discussing the latest conspiracy theory they found on Reddit.
The Pizzagate conspiracy is one that made headlines at the end of 2016 when a man from North Carolina drove to a Washington pizzeria to “self-investigate” a conspiracy involving the Clinton campaign and a child sex trafficking ring. The theory started on the internet was composed of baseless information, but nevertheless, a lot of people bought into the story, which led the man from Salisbury, North Carolina to drive to Washington. He carried an assault rifle and fired inside Comet Ping Pong, where the supposed “trafficking ring” was taking place. Police found absolutely nothing to sustain those claims.
Both liberal and conservative sites are guilty of being biased towards their own cause, therefore, it is very important to know how to tell if what you’re reading is accurate and true. We live in an era where the world is at your fingertips. No matter what side you’re on however, you should be aware of what the truth is. Good fact-checking websites include: Snopes, Fact Check, Politifact, Open Secrets, among other similar websites. There are also no alternative facts, there are only facts. You can still get your news from whatever media outlet you prefer, but make sure you can look at things objectively and distinguish actual “fake news.”