Social media and fake news. 09.02.2017

February 11, 2017 in Journalism & society Term 2

This week we were expected to examine critical debates surrounding digital media and discuss how the new cultural developments are changing the landscape of journalism.

The development and improvement of technology has evolved so fast that you would expect that the journalists have been adapting constantly through history to keep up with it. The time scale from when something happens to when it is expected to be published on the news seems to become shorter and shorter as technology evolves. With that though, comes consequences. News stories are being rushed to be published before any other news paper can cover the same story. Everyone wants to be the first to cover a viral story but with that, research is not the priority. Fact checking as well as authenticity research is being ignored. The way we as people tell and receive stories have changed tremendously since the introduction of the internet to the public. Since the year 2000, the amount of internet users have increased by 200 million. (source)

So with so many people online, it makes you wonder how many people get their news from the internet. The issue with this is that, the public not only have access to this information, but they also have access to publish false information for others to read and state as fact.

For example, a viral video came out the other day regarding a female cyclist being cat called by two van drivers at a traffic red light. In ‘a fit of rage’ she rips off the drivers wing view mirror and then rides off. The video got millions of hits within days and news papers like The daily Mail, were covering it as actual news. But none of them had done their research to back up on what we were watching wasn’t staged. A few days went by and the truth inevitably came out and it was proved that the whole story was staged for views. (See video below)

“Within minutes or hours, a claim can morph from a lone tweet or badly sourced report to a story repeated by dozens of news websites, generating tens of thousands of shares. Once a certain critical mass is reached, repetition has a powerful effect on belief. The rumour becomes true for readers simply by virtue of its ubiquity.” (The guardian article 2016

I did a survey with my fellow students at UAL outside the entrance last week to find out how many people between the ages of 18 and 25, read their news. Out of the 120 people I asked, here are my results;

  • 60% of them said that they got their news first from social media, (but would then google the information to find out if it was true from a more reliable source.) 
  • 25% of them said that they got their news from a news app on their phone or from a news website on their device.
  • 10% Said they got their news from the TV or the radio.
  • 5% Said they got their news from news papers.

I then asked the same group of people if they have ever read a news story from their news source and then later on find out that the story was false? 

95% Said yes and 5% of them said no.

“Verification and fact-checking are regularly falling prey to the pressure to bring in the numbers, and if the only result of being caught out is another chance to bring in the clicks, that looks unlikely to change.” (Rawlinson 2016)

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