The illustration above, which shows reporters carrying various forms of fake news, was published way back in 1894 by pioneering cartoonist Frederick Burr Opper. He would have been blissfully unaware at the time of its creation, but he had just uncovered a powerful phrase that, 123 years later, would become word of the year for 2017 and which would define the credibility and legitimacy of the news, mass media and journalism throughout the 21st century. Rubber Duck Media explains below how to identify fake news and what can be done to prevent it spreading further and doing more damage.
The dissemination of fabricated information designed to mislead, push a narrative or agenda, or to simply attract attention for its own sake, is not a new concept by any means. In the form of propaganda, it has been the weapon of choice for a succession of governments and powerful demagogues throughout history to obtain and hold onto power, whilst simultaneously suppressing any dissent. But now with the rise of the internet and social media, fake news has taken on a new and more dangerous dimension. Social media has provided the optimum conditions to promote and encourage the spreading of factually inaccurate information like wildfire through the social media newsfeeds of millions of people in a matter of minutes. The more we like, retweet and share news articles which confirm our pre-existing values and ideas, the more likely it is that social media sites, most notably Facebook, will serve us up with similar posts and articles which increase the likelihood of us consuming fake news. So this leaves us with the question, how to identify fake news?
How to identify fake news
In an attempt to help people find out how to identify fake news and prevent it from spreading further, we have created the infographic below which identifies 12 key areas to put the credibility and legitimacy of news stories to the test. Please feel free to download it, print it, translate it and share it on social media. Armed with this information and a healthy dose of skepticism, we can become much better at detecting fakes news and we can help shape the media to be more aligned with the facts.