We Can’t Stop Fake News, But We Can Raise Awareness
By Frank Yin
A facebook post said that a congresswomen believed that the U.S. military is being overpaid. Then, a police officer commented with a death threat towards the congresswomen and another police officer liked the comment. The facebook post was from a website Taters Gonna Tate which purposely spreads fake news to make people fall for it. Those people can learn from the consequences of their actions from believing the fake news. The two police officers were later fired because of their mistakes. The facebook post used the strong emotions of the officers to make them take action. Playing on emotions is a one common way fake news sources create controversy and harm. Believing in fake news has major consequences such as Jim Crow Laws, white supremacy, and the mob storming the U.S capital. Raising awareness about fake news is important because it spreads quickly and is very dangerous.
In the early 19th century, fake news was created. When the printing press came out, newspapers increased circulation by spreading fake news. Later, the Nazis used propaganda to create prejudice against Jewish people and help its war effort. Currently, fake news is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true stories. In early 2021, the capital was stormed by people that believed the election was rigged. Fake news used peoples’ emotions and their political biases to create this insurrection. The storming of the capitol did not change the election results, but more fake news is being created to excuse the unjustified actions that day.
Many people are susceptible to fake news. They are susceptible to fake news that aligns with their biases and have a hard time accepting true stories that do not align with their biases. For example, a story about a wall between Mexico and Guatemala spread very fast even though the photo of the wall was in Israel. The people that saw the story shared it without verifying the story’s credibility.
Conflicts that have been resolved continue to be fought because the losers of the conflict tell a different story about how an incident occured. For instance, the civil war was won by the Union, but fake news made some believe the war was over states’ rights, made Confederate leaders heroes, and belittled the cruelty of slavery. The result of the fake news was Jim Crow Laws and white supremacy.
People have different biases but putting them aside and checking sources for credibility can stop editors with bad intentions. Stopping the creation of fake news is hard, but the impact of fake news can be minimized.