What if I tell you that fake news is a new form of a weapon?

All you need to know about fake news in one place.

Fake news kills people

A day before the execution of 264 Croatian prisoners of war and civilians in the Ovčara massacre, Serbian media reported that 40 Serb babies had been killed in Vukovar. Dr. Vesna Bosanac, the head of Vukovar hospital from which the Croatian POW's and civilians were taken, said she believed the story of slaughtered babies was released intentionally to incite Serb nationalists to execute Croats. It was the worst war crime in Europe since World War II up until that point.

Fake news rewrites history

The Chinese government has waged a months-long disinformation campaign to portray itself as the country that defeated the virus, when it attempted to hide it for months.

"From Turkey to China, strongmen rewrite the past to suit their ends. But democracies are not immune to this revisionism."

The Guardian

Fake news is a threat to democracies

The European Commission has identified Russian disinformation campaigns as the EU’s greatest threat.

Russian disinformation is especially prevalent during election season—for example around the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2019 European Parliament elections—before key referendums such as the 2016 vote on Brexit, and during large-scale protests such as the ones in Catalonia in 2017 for independence and in France in 2018–2019 with the yellow vests—and now with the coronavirus pandemic. The goal is to weaken the EU by polarizing society within individual member states and undermining the trust in institutions and in political elites across European societies. Through these actions, the Russian authorities aim to influence internal EU processes to Russia’s benefit.

Falsehood spreads on social media six times faster than truth.

Why is fake news spreading that fast?

Selective exposure

Individuals tendency to favor information which reinforces their pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information.

Confirmation bias

One has his own arguments and also arguments against arguments for his opponents. One is also surrounded by others with the same point of view.

Post-truth politics

Objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Social media

Social media algorithms tend to push the most viewed content without checking if it is true or not, which is why they magnify the impact of fake news.

What is fake news?

Disinformation

Fake or misleading stories created and shared deliberately, often by a writer who might have a financial or political motive, e.g. propaganda.

Misinformation

This also means fake or misleading stories, but in this case the stories may not have been deliberately created or shared with the intention to mislead.

Propaganda

False facts which are written to promote a political agenda or a set of ideas.

Mistakes

Sometimes accidents can happen, but a trusted source will always correct errors in their stories and say when they’ve got things wrong.

Satire

Made-up stories that aren’t meant to be taken seriously, written to joke about the news or famous people.

Clickbait

Eye-catching but misleading headlines, designed to get people to click on links to make money or views for a website.

How to spot fake news?

1

Consider the source

Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.

2

Read beyond the headline

Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story?

3

Check the authors

Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?

4

Assess the supporting sources

Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story.

5

Check the date of publication

Reposting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events.

6

Ask if it is a joke

If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.

7

Review your own biases

Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.

8

Ask the experts

Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.