Fake news is a problem that is taking the internet by storm, and it ran rampant during the 2016 Presidential Election. In fact, many believe that fake news stories had a strong impact on the outcome of the election. In a survey following the election by the Pew Research Center, a whopping 64 percent of polled Americans said that fake news has given them a “great deal of confusion” about current events.
All of us have been fooled by fake news, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. But, there are some lessons that we can learn from it: Here are five of those lessons:
Fear and the Unknown are Perfect for Fake News
One of the lessons that we can learn from fake news is that any event that causes fear or the unknown is the perfect breeding ground for fake stories. We live in a world where competition for attention is rampant, and headlines are written to make you click. Remember, anyone can write up a fake news story and make it look legitimate, and in many cases, these stories are based on fact. For instance, you might recall the stories of creepy clowns walking through neighborhoods earlier this year, which was actually real news. However, you might also recall that these clowns were going on murdering sprees. This is fake…it never happened, but because these stories appear on legitimate looking sites, people believe it.
Some Stories Fool Us All…
Another lesson to learn about fake news is that some stories are so good or so believable, that they fool us all. You might remember a meme that was shared stating that Donald Trump said that Republicans are the “dumbest group of voters in the country.” Due to the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t exactly keep his views silent and has made a habit of insulting people, most people took this for truth. It wasn’t. He never said it, but many believed it.
Most Fake Stories are Obviously Fake When You Actually Read Them
Most of us are tricked by fake news stories because we never actually read past the headlines. Writers of these stories make sure that these headlines are eye-catching and believable, in addition to viral. When we read a headline of a fake story, we often get the wrong impression of what the story is about. This is on purpose. If you actually click these stories and read them, you will often find that they have a lot of incorrect facts and are poorly written.
No One is Immune From Fake News
You will also find that no one is immune from fake news, and sometimes this news crosses over into the real world. Take the Pokemon Go phenomenon of this summer. There was a fake new story of a man who was stabbed while playing Pokemon Go in a bad neighborhood. However, a few days later, a man really WAS stabbed while playing the game.
There were also fake news stories that Hilary Clinton was given debate questions in advance. It was untrue. However, a few weeks later this actually happened.
Politics is a Huge Factor in Fake News
There is no question that politics are emotional, and this is not just the case in the U.S. It is also similar in Europe. Thus, the emotions of politics helps to make fake news extremely believable.
Many people simply do not trust the mainstream media, so they seek out other news sources. However, these news sources are extremely biased, highly believable, and generally fake.
You have probably noticed that many of these news stories over the past several months have focused on accusing the two Presidential candidates of crimes. There were also many stories about violence between supporters of the opposing parties. The vast majority of these stories were fake, and if you believed them, sorry to say, you were duped.
In our current climate of fear, anger, and hate, the facts are being clouded by emotions, and this is why we are so ready to believe the stories that fall in line with our beliefs. Facebook is not a trustworthy news site. Do your own research, go to trusted sites written by those who are fully researched. You will quickly see that fake stories become transparent once you have the facts.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.