Fake News a Real Problem

Posted on January 4, 2017 by

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The recent political election season has raised a number of issues regarding the government, including partisanship in Congress and the feasibility of Donald Trump as the next president. Ironically, one of the problems not getting as much news coverage is that of fake news. Fraudulent news sites and phony journalists have attempted to push their own agenda and influence the opinions and views of others, merely by the proliferation of spurious headlines.

A simple Google search yields numerous fake news sites as well as fake news generators, so anyone could hop on and create bogus news stories. 21stcenturywire.com and infowars.com are some of the most popular sites publishing and spreading fake stories.

One of the most prominent and infamous of recent fake news stories was that of the paedophilia ring at a Washington D.C. pizza store. Enough people believed the story that someone fired shots into the restaurant, according to the BBC. Hillary Clinton also warned, as reported on many news outlets, to be on the lookout for counterfeit news. She cited “Pizzagate” as an example of real world consequences of fake news.

The “Pizzagate” scandal was made even more infamous by the fact that it was spread by Mike Flynn, Jr., son and assistant of Mike Flynn, who Donald Trump tapped as his National Security Adviser. Trump later fired Flynn over the issue, according to the New York Times.

Furthermore, a recent study by Stanford University published on npr.org found that the ability of students, ranging from middle school to college, to assess information sources “is described… as dismaying,” “bleak,” and “[a] threat to democracy.”

Some of the conclusions that the study came to included the following: “Most college students didn’t suspect potential bias in a tweet from an activist group”; “Many high school students couldn’t tell a real and fake news source apart on Facebook”; and “Most Stanford students couldn’t identify the difference between a mainstream and fringe source.”

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