We now live in a ‘post-truth’ society. The adjective post-truth ‘relates to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.’
“What is Fake News?” There are two kinds of fake news: 1- Stories that aren’t true. These are entirely invented stories designed to make people believe something false, to buy a certain product, or to visit a certain website. 2- Stories that have some truth, but aren’t 100 percent accurate. For example, a journalist quotes only part of what a politician says, giving a false impression of their meaning. Again, this can be deliberate, to convince readers of a certain viewpoint, or it can be the result of an innocent mistake. Either way, it quickly attracts an audience and can become entrenched as an “urban myth.”
To confuse matters further, there are also people who claim that factually accurate stories are fake news, just because they don’t agree with them or find them uncomfortable.
“Where Does Fake News Come From?” Fake news is nothing new. But, what is new is how easy it’s become to share information – both true and false – on a massive scale. Social media platforms allow almost anyone to publish their thoughts or share stories to the world. The trouble is, most people don’t check the source of the material that they view online before they share it, which can lead to fake news spreading quickly or even “going viral.” At the same time, it’s become harder to identify the original source of news stories, which can make it difficult to assess their accuracy.
“The Impact of Fake News.” At work for example some people might start to believe that they no longer need evidence to back up their arguments. Others start to mistrust information all together. They stop listening to industry reports, and disengage from official communication, slowing their professional growth and development. Ultimately, this can damage an organization’s learning culture. Fake news can affect behavior, too leading to polarization. It encourages people to invent excuses, to dismiss others’ ideas, to exaggerate the truth, and to spread rumors. This can create divided societies, anxious relationships, workplaces where people are cynical and unsure of who to trust.
“Fake news affect far more than politics, but it has recently characterized that sphere of public life to a frightening degree.” There have always been lying politicians desperate to promote themselves, and propaganda is a vital tool for any totalitarian state. First, social media allows anybody to communicate anything at any time to a vast audience. Second, social media have become the main way we access news.
“Fake news is also driven by greed.” The key way social media platforms persuade us to share contents is by social proof. The more ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ a post has, the more likely we are to like or share it ourselves. And so it spreads in ever-widening circles, accumulating more likes and shares as it goes. We also share posts that push our emotional buttons: if something makes us laugh or cry, or angers us, we will share it.
“We all have a strong psychological tendency to latch on to information that confirms ideas we already have.” Conversely, we tend to avoid or reject anything that challenges us.