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Fake News is Taking Over… What Can I Do?

In his book “Mobile and Social Journalism,” Anthony Adornato defines fake news as “the deliberate fabrication of information with the intent to deceive.” Adornato then goes on to cite other definitions for fake news from the Cambridge Dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary and PolitiFact. What these definitions have in common is that fake news intentionally looks like real news with the goal to deceive others.

I agree with these definitions because to me, they feel self-explanatory. Fake news is everywhere.

The people who produce fake news are accomplishing their goals. They are deceiving others.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that from 2006 to 2017, fake news traveled six times faster than real news.

Let that sink in…fake news traveled six times faster than real news.

Oxford Dictionaries even named “post-truth” the 2016 Word of the Year, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

It is becoming harder and harder to differentiate fact from fiction. The problem seems too large to solve, so where do we even begin?

After the 2016 election, social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have been infamous for allowing fake news to spread quickly, and for good reason. About half of Americans say that they get their news from social media.

There is debate around the ethics of social media companies taking more accountability for the spread of fake news and to what extent they should filter disinformation and prioritize accurate information from established news outlets.

I have never loved social media, but for my Mobile and Social Journalism course, I have had to come to terms with the fact that social media is becoming an imperative part of journalism. Surprisingly I have enjoyed letting my audience in on my reporting process via Twitter.

According to Adornato, we need to better explain the process of reporting: “That’s where social media comes into play. It’s a platform where we have the opportunity to lift the veil on our reporting process, which, by no fault of their own, is not generally understood by the public.”

I do not work for Twitter, and I cannot help Twitter filter out fake news. However, I will now not view social media as a chore, but as an opportunity to educate my audience on my reporting process and practice full transparency with my work.

Combatting fake news is not just up to technology companies. It is up to all of us.

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