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The growing problem of fake news

James Johnson, Staff Artist
Originally published January 27, 2017

With major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter we are able to connect with friends, family and people around the world. So naturally, news is a large part of it.

“If you hear something that may not be true look it up on a credible news source to ensure that it is accurate,” junior Alex Pinne said.

However you might be scrolling through Facebook’s news feed and stumble across an article with a title that grabs your attention.

“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President.” You’re not sure whether this is true or false. So you investigate.

With no factual evidence to back this article up, it is what some refer to as fake news.

There are several types of fake news. This form of fake news is called a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy theory is the belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.

The other types of fake news are click bait, disinformation, and propaganda. Clickbait is content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

The most common type of fake news is Disinformation. Disinformation, which is false information that is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.

Lastly is propaganda. Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. This is much like disinformation.

“If its subscription based, a news outlet doesn’t really have an incentive to distribute fake news,”Junior Caleb Flynn said. “So those are the guys I trust. “Also use fact checking.”

Many people disregard looking into the source of things and will take an article on the internet at face value. Hundreds of thousands of people started to believe that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump.

The 2016 presidential election is what mainly brought fake news to people’s attention.

Some say that the elections outcome was the way it was because of fake news

According to the website WTOE 5 News, it was reported in July 2016 that Pope Francis had endorsed presidential candidate Donald Trump, breaking its tradition. WTOE 5 News stated that “news outlets around the world were reporting on the unprecedented endorsement.”

Not one news source confirmed this because WTOE 5 News is a fake news site that pretends to be a local television news outlet. WTOE 5 News is a fantasy news website.  Most articles on there are satire or pure fantasy.

It has become worse, On Sunday December 4th, a man holding an assault rifle entered a Washington D.C. Pizzeria named “Comet Ping Pong.”

It was later revealed after his arrest that he was there to self investigate an online conspiracy by the name of “Pizzagate.” Pizzagate is the name given to the online fake story about how the restaurant and its owner being involved in a child sex operation. It also charged Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta being involved.

According to an interview done by CNN, restaurant owner James Alefantis said, “What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.”

This shows the level of danger fake news can put on our society. A situation that started out as just an online conspiracy theory turned potentially lethal.

Mass shootings are a monumental problem right now as it is.

What if someone decides to use a weapon to harm others instead of just “self investigating?”

The blame lies not only on the perpetrator but it also lies on the fake news that in part caused it.

Head librarian, Debbie Arthur has some ideas about how to combat fake news. “How can techniques to distinguish fake news from real news be implemented into the curriculum?”

“I’ve sent out an email to staff encouraging them to cover fake news in their classes,” librarian Debbie Arthur said. “Some teachers are going to start in class debates with the students selecting which news is fake or not. “I’ve also been asked by some teachers to do presentations on fake news and talk about the problem with students.”
Arthur also mentioned that starting in February a poster board will be set up in the library to bring awareness to fake news. It will have information available to everyone about how you can spot fake news.

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The growing problem of fake news