“Fake news” can seem like harmless lies. However, the worst case scenario is that fake news can be a threat to democracy and contribute to the formation of violent movements.
Why do people create fake news?
Two reasons are:
- Political interest, hoping to influence opinions and attitudes in society.
- Make money.
Anti-vaccinationists are also called anti-vaxxers. Some anti-vaxxers believe vaccinating children can cause autism. There is no proof to support this, but wrong information is spread in social media and many people believe it. The World Health Organization considers the fight against vaccines to be one of the world’s biggest health threats.
Fake news often comes from undocumented claims. The goal is to get more power or change policies. Such claims can end up challenging democracy and adding to raise violence.
During World War II the German Nazis blamed the Jews for Germany’s problems in the 1930s. The spread of misinformation about the Jews lead up to what is today called the Holocaust; the massacre of more than 6 million Jews.
Fake news spreads fast
Fake news spreads fast. Fake news can be shared on the internet and in social media by anyone. Many people can be exposed to the news very fast. It can be difficult for the reader to know what is fake and what is real news. If someone believes the fake news, they may spread it on their own social media.
Why is distinguishing between fake and real news difficult?
Fake news can look like real news, which is why it is easy to be fooled. But fake news does not follow the same rules of ethics that serious sources do.
Social media has made it more difficult to separate between real and fake news. Fake news sites make money for each click, and this income can help their sites to be more professional and make it harder to recognize fake news.
Many people do not know how to tell the difference between real and fake news, and do not know how social media works. In other words, many people can be fooled by fake news.
How can we identify fake news?
The Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet) gives some tips on how to identify fake news:
STOP – ThinK – check
- Does it seem unbelievable? Fake news uses headlines that attract your attention
- Who is behind this information? Check the address of the page. Fake news is often published on websites with URL addresses that look like reliable news sources.
- Who wrote the news?
- Can you find something about the matter somewhere else? A real news story is often mentioned in several news sources.
- Does the news upset you? Disinformation often appeals to our emotions.
- Do you find the picture credible? A picture can also be fake.
- Examine the language. Are there many mistakes?
- Look closely at graphs and numbers. Check the source of the graphs and if percentage points or percentages are used.
- Medietilsynet (09.01.2021): Slik avslører du desinformasjon og falske nyheter https://www.medietilsynet.no/mediebildet/slik-avslorer-du-falske-nyheter/
- Kildekompasset (09.01.2021): Hva er kildekritikk?
- Orgeret, Kristin Skare: kildekritikk i Store norske leksikon på snl.no.
Hentet 5. mars 2021 fra https://snl.no/kildekritikk
- Banik, Vibeke Kieding: Holocaust i Store norske leksikon på snl.no.
Hentet 5. mars 2021 fra https://snl.no/Holocaust
- Cambridge Dictionary (hentedato: 20.06.2022)