One of the most overwhelming issues in today's society is the lack of reliable information. There are many of those who work on spreading false information in order to benefit themselves, but harm others in the process. This phenomenon is commonly refered to as “Fake News”.
SLAM presents this “Fake News Detection Flyer” as a tool for everyone to learn how to keep harmful fake news at a distance.
Did you know?
An MIT study found that false stories were 70% more likely to get retweeted on Twitter in comparison to accurate ones. 44% of people admit to being deceived by fake news at least once. (IPSOS Global Survey 2019). With over 1.8 billion active users per month in 2016, Facebook accounted for 20% of total traffic to reliable websites and up to 50% of all the traffic to fake news sites.
The occurrence of fake news has become a major problem with online news sources. A distinction amongst three types of fake news can be made on a conceptual level: serious fabrications, hoaxes, and satire. Serious fabrications are usually news items written on false information, including celebrity gossip. Hoaxes refer to false information provided via social media, often syndicated by traditional news platforms. As for satire, it refers to using humour in the news to imitate real news, but through irony and absurdity.
Research has shown that people’s confidence in their ability to find information online made them overly confident about whether that information is accurate. In the other case, it was shown that dogmatism and religious fundamentalism, which led people to believe certain fake news, were associated with a lack of a critical and questioning mindset. It is important to note that not all news and information published by unofficial news sources is necessarily false. However, many unofficial sources have been extensively reported as unreliable by well-known debunking sites.
There are also certain psychological phenomena that hinder our ability to decode fake news. We will mention some of them below.
People are usually inclined to make conclusions about the truthfulness of things they hear, based on how familiar those things sound. This means that the more familiar something seems to an individual, the more inclined they are to believe it without checking the legitimacy of the source from which the information came from. Some individuals are likely to conclude that something is true just because it does not fit their expectations of how imaginative the provider of information can get in inventing a piece of news.
It is a normal occurrence to question the motivation that lies in spreading fake news. Reasons for such a practice can be different, but most often have something to do with gaining easy advertisement. The type of advertisement related to the spreading of fake news is commonly called “clickbait” and examples of this are numerous. One of the examples is “Seventeen celebrities that have had botched plastic surgery… You won’t believe number 11.” Titles like this are strictly focused on advertisement and have no real value as actual news.
Another thing involved in believability to be aware of is the availability heuristic. Things that are easily brought to the forefront of memory are given special status (Tversky and Kahneman 1974).
The process of drawing conclusions regarding pieces of information, in a way that is similar to an individual’s personal set of beliefs is called confirmation bias. People are more likely to believe facts if their belief system is reinforced by said facts. Psychologically speaking, this is a heuristic by which agreement of articles with one’s own personal opinion reinforces faith in its truthfulness, while disagreement causes doubt in how true the article is.
Becoming aware of these tactics utilized by those who spread fake news, is instrumental in recognizing them, especially due to the fact that fake news is created to be complementary to people’s beliefs and feel like they are factual.
Author: BRAVO team