Our View: Fake news shaping dystopian outcomes

“Aliens Proven Real” and  “Blondes Going Extinct According to Science” are titles that definitely spark one’s interest. Titles like these have definitely gotten you to click on them while scrolling through social media. Aside from eye catching, the most prominent similarity between these articles is the fact that they are what is called ‘Fake news.’

Fake news is exactly what the name says it is. False information delivered in some journalistic form, most commonly in articles. This phenomena is far from new. In fact, it has been around for centuries. It’s not exactly hard to lie about something, now is it?

A historical example is how in 1782, Benjamin Franklin made a fake issue of a newspaper. A story said that American forces discovered bags of money and goods that were for the King, but had the scalps of soldiers and civilians. Franklin sent the newspaper out and the article was eventually republished in real papers. There were signs the document was a fake, but because of the controversy created, no one seemed to notice. Sadly, Franklin’s “news” added to the hate directed against Native Americans and helped create a false image that they weren’t trustworthy.

And like we have learned and observed time and time again, history repeats itself. Fake news has recently gained notoriety due to the fact that it is very easily spread through our modern day luxury (or has it become a necessity?), the Internet. More specifically, social media.

A recent example of fake news is a completely fake conspiracy theory about Hilary Clinton that claims that she and her former campaign manager, John Podesta, ran a child sex ring at a pizzeria in D.C. called Comet Ping Pong. This led to a shooting at this location last Sunday. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

While Pizzagate is currently the most high-profile example of fake news going wrong, it is part of a bigger problem.

Now, more than ever, we need to realize that journalism cannot be done just by picking up one’s phone. We need real journalists and to listen to them — those who realize the actual impact of what they do and who take advantage of it in the right way. Noam Chomsky once wrote, “The duty of journalists is to tell the truth. Journalism means you go back to the actual facts, you look at the documents, you discover what the record is and you report it that way.”

One should realize that journalism is at least 90 percent fact-checking. News wasn’t meant for commerce or for self promotion or even for entertainment. It was meant to educate people on what is happening around them, to inform. To seek the truth and to let it be known.

So as controversial, interesting or entertaining a fake news story is, that’s what it will always be. Fake. Check your facts because purveyors of fake news sure aren’t.

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