We all saw the headlines littering our newsfeed; crafted to draw a gasp, spur anger, and divide groups further. But how much of the ‘News’ filling our newsfeed was, and is legitimate? Depending on your friend base, interests and likes, that percentage would vary. Our feed is designed to show us what we would be interested in: based on our browser history, our likes, our friends, and other interests. The more we like, and read outlier news, the more will fill up space on our never ending feed.
False and misleading news is on the rise. Several factors have played a role in this trend, and today I will touch on a few key aspects that have given rise to such news.
First and foremost was the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. Legitimate news sources began competing for higher ratings, for more viewership, more likes and shares of their news than their competing outlets. News companies started fighting to have the latest breaking news, to have the best headlines to draw clicks and readership, and looking to make the most mundane news, newsworthy. It worked, we fell for it; and continue to, no matter how much we complain about it.
Following this, the rise of social media, which strategically places news and information you’d be interested in on your feed to keep you engaged. Facebook has proven successful in part because it has become the single place to go to catch up with friends, share our latest thoughts and adventures, and read up on the latest news gossip- and share that crazy story with the world.
To complete the trifecta, you have the unprecedented ease of publishing content online. For less than $100 per year, and as little as $12 per year, you can own your own domain name and hosting. What is this?, you may be asking. Here’s an example: facebook.com is a domain name, as is nike.com, cnn.com and all other website URLs you visit. The Domain functions as a house address, and hosting like the house. Without hosting, there would be no content. Anyone can go online and buy an available domain name with hosting, and you can put whatever content you want on the web, thanks to the 1stamendment. Now we have so many people who want to share their opinion, voice their thoughts, and create an even more grand ta-do than the mainstream media! (Can you smell a disaster coming??!)
While it is great to have outlets for people to share their viewpoints on situations and events, as readers it is even more important that we do our research before we trust what we read online to be genuine truth. Many of these fake, misleading, biased, and satirical news sources say they are such right on their about page…but we are generally too busy reading the outlandish news and becoming enraged, or more supportive, rather than doing the extra clicking on the site to determine how realistic the source is. Thanks to Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communication and media as well as a handful of others, I am able to share a doc of False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical News Sourcesto make your job that much easier!
While in a great sense, we created the monster that is now nipping us in the rear, we have the power to bite back. We brought in on by our desire to know all that is going on, up to the minute, by feeding into the click bait frenzy and being drawn to such outlandish headlines. We’ve shown them that their ways work. But by doing research, reading multiple news sources on a subject, and staying informed with authentic news sources we can limit the success of the misleading news taking over.
It will also be interesting to see how Facebook works to actively works to keep the false and misleading news to a minimum, but we can’t put our trust in the social media monger alone. Some of these news sources were meant to be satirical, but taken out of context as literal news. That falls on the reader, not the writer. The greatest piece of advice I will part with, is don’t trust something simply because it is online. Together, we can collectively correct the improper use of mass dissemination of false, misleading and misinterpreted news.
the Bees Knees PR, LLC.