Direct Impact of Technology on News and Misinformation
The shocking headlines of the past few years entitled “Donald Trump ends school shootings by banning schools.” and “Pope Francis shocks the world, endorses Donald Trump for president.” both have one thing in common, they weren’t true. These news headlines along with many others went viral and were viewed by thousands around the world. The twenty-first century has seen technological advances like no other time before, and the rise of digital news has led to people coming across fake news on a regular basis. Fake news is very harmful, it creates misconceptions and confusion of reality. It surfaces on most channels, whether it be televised or seen on any social media platforms such as Facebook or YouTube. Many people are often oblivious on whether the news is true or false because audiences do not utilize critical thinking when viewing news but believe whatever is shown to them. Even though these stories can be entertaining and amusing, they are dangerous and can affect a reader in ways they might not even imagine. I believe that fake news has a negative impact on our society, and the individual mind. Political views can be changed because of fake news and cause someone to vote differently.
False rumors that targets a society or a certain individual can cause bullying and violence to innocent people. Also, fake news can affect an individual’s financial decisions due to false or exaggerated information provided. By looking at sudden change in political views, unexplained violence towards others, and impulsive financial decisions, it is evident that fake news negatively impacts our society and individual minds. Fake news is all around the web and even though we all want it to obliterate, it will always be out there, and we must be cautious when reading unreliable information or we could face the consequences that come with believing false information. Many people have heard stories or maybe never heard of this at all, but false information played a huge role in the last American presidential election. This is one of the reasons why in recent years the media has begun to speak so much about the fake news phenomenon, because this is an important democratic issue. In short, the impacts are very real, and we must avoid sharing fake news. In 2016, a gunman motivated by an online conspiracy theory intended to discredit the Democratic Party leaders. The gunman stormed into a pizzeria with the mission to stop a fictional pedophile ring. Meanwhile, millions of Facebook users were exposed to false stories presented as journalism leading up to the 2016 presidential election. One of the main reasons as to why Trump won the 2016 presidential election is the internet media. Internet media is a platform anyone has access to, so through the usage of internet media many people can get influenced by unofficial underground news sources.
It is shocking that Hilary Clinton can expose confidential documents, and that Donald Trump, someone with instances of bankruptcy and multiple disrespectful encounters with women, can become the president of the United States. This is all possible because the media ignores facts like this and instead proposes news in favor to make a certain candidate likeable. American journalism has gone through a revelation with the integration of internet media in their everyday lives of society. During the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton there was a lot of news circulating social media. A reader could’ve pulled up any Facebook page and see that there was a viral story circling the web about how Donald Trump was handling his campaign. There was a story that Donald Trump slapped a man in the audience who was disagreeing with him over an argument. This story was shared about eight hundred thousand times, with no credible source. People truly don’t know whether the news they are reading is real news or not. Fake news can be unreliable information that can go as far as people making money off it or promoting an idea using exaggerated or false information. Of the known false news stories that appeared prior to the election, those favoring Trump were shared around a total of 30 million times on Facebook, compared to those favoring Clinton that were only shared 8 million times. The average American citizen saw perhaps several fake news stories in the months before the election, with just over half of those who recalled seeing them believing them; and people are much more likely to believe stories that favor their preferred candidate. For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads. Although this stat may sound very unrealistic, you would be surprised how easily this goal could be met. With all the technological advances we have seen over the years, with just one simple share a fake story could go viral in minutes and change the opinion of thousands.
Fake news, news articles that are meant to manipulate people’s perception of reality, has been commonly used to influence politics and promote advertising. But it has also become a method to stir up and intensify social conflict. Untrue stories have intentionally misled readers to protest over imaginary events and even result to violence. In an infamous case, a fake news story caused a man to shoot up an innocent pizzeria that was linked to alleged statements of human trafficking. In the incident known as “Pizzagate,” a man walked into a regular American pizza store with a semi-automatic rifle and fired shots. This gunman was convinced that this pizzeria had a hidden pedophilia trafficking ring led by presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton. This fictional conspiracy was first created by a fake news website and was slowly spread all over the internet media. It was shared all over the world and many bots played a role in making this story go viral. People with malicious intent can use fake news to make American national conflicts more intense. The story of pizza gate has reached this much attention because it is a perfect example of how badly fake news can really impact our society. From a single post to over 40,000 collective members from Facebook groups keeping the conspiracy alive. The members post misinformation and wild allegations linking just about anyone to a world-wide pedophilia ring. Another popular similar case took place in India, false rumors about child kidnappers went viral on WhatsApp, prompting fearful mobs to kill two dozen innocent people. False information flooded social media attempting to link alleged kidnappings with multiple a large family. And the millions of misguided Indians coming online for the first time mean many were going to be quick to believe whatever they see.
The alleged accused family were on their way to a temple, when they stopped to ask for directions. A grandmother nearby grew suspicious and alarmed her son. The family became nervous and decided to turn back. By the time they got to the next village, a crowd was waiting for them. Videos of the following attack were circulated widely online. They were stripped naked and beaten with wooden sticks. WhatsApp’s design makes it easy to spread false information. The kidnap warnings mainly appeared to come from friends and family. However, many messages are shared in groups, and when they are forwarded, there is no indication of their origin. The public must be knowledgeable about media and how false facts can easily be circulated. Media literacy helps people to use critical thinking skills about specific range of issues. Because of this, there is a great chance that fake news could possibly be reduced to a certain extent. Considering how easily the internet media can be accessed, readers must view cautiously and never believe what they are looking at until proven reliable because it could lead to serious violence. Whether it be strictly professional or just an everyday decision the smallest piece of misinformation can cause someone to buy something they originally never would’ve.
Believing fake news is real can stop a business individual from making a wise investment or other money related decisions. Finance is stressful enough for society. Trying to figure out a budget, balancing wants versus needs, what you should be saving for retirement, and keeping up on monthly bills are all already very difficult decisions. Throwing in fake financial news only helps to create a large amount of stress to the regular citizen. Researchers have discovered that false stories on financial websites can sway stock markets one way or another and impact trading levels. The risk of making an impulsive financial decision in reaction to a headline or article that may be designed to mislead has the potential to cause serious problems. Acting quick does not allow the proper time to think a decision through and weigh the long and short-term financial implications. A major issue of false marketing relates to the fitness industry and thousands of Canadians fall victim to this trap. We see a countless number of ads promising major fat loss or muscle gain and think we could never fall from a scam this big.
However, with the media overflowing us with these ads and showing us fake results, we are trained to believe that we can turn into what we see. The unrealistic end goals make viewers feel they are stout and need to have whatever the ad is providing. And that crave the fake stories provides plays a huge role in getting average adults in spending hundreds of dollars on frivolous products. Advertisers use fake news depending on the specific situation and the end goal is to mainly make money off you. Whether it is getting you to buy a product, invest in a stock, or simply just viewing the ad. Viewers are swayed into seeing false information to tap into their psychological needs and fall into whatever they are viewing. The fitness industry is a billion-dollar industry that mainly relies on the help of false marketing and convincing viewers that whatever there selling works. When nine times out of ten their product is not proven to actual work and just based off false reviews. Spotting false marketing is elusive but viewers should be aware of the financial effects of fake news. When making important financial decisions it is important to not rush into your decision and make sure it is backed up by reliable information. As a result of fake news having a negative impact on society, average citizen’s experience unexpected changes in political opinions, violence based off of unreliable information, and impractical financial decisions. Political views rely mainly on what a viewer is fed by the media and fake stories can easily sway a person’s opinion. Violence based off rumor might seem like a high school story but is happens often throughout many fields based off of false information. Whether it be a business investor or a grocery store consumer the way our money is spent can easily be swayed by a small piece of false marketing.
Misinformation can be very difficult to correct and may have lasting effects even after it has been discredited. For example, after Hilary Clinton’s alleged pedophile ring was proven to be fake it was already too late for Donald Trump had already won the elections. As an active voting citizen, it is important to always source check and article you could be reading on a running candidate especially during election time. The easiness of spreading fake news makes everyone a possible victim to coming across an article that can change your whole view on a topic and this is not good. Situations like these could lead to danger and harm as seen in the incident of pizza gate. A gunman took multiple shots at an innocent man and could’ve killed someone based off of an unreliable article he viewed. In multiple other incidents around the world false rumors can led to serious violence and has led to murder many times in the past.
High school rumors were bad enough and stirred up a lot of drama and led to many fights. But with the technological advances we have recently seen, imagine the damage that could be caused from fake news on the internet media. It is important to never lead to violence based off something you heard or read that is unreliable. In addition, the new programs social media offer now such as Facebook and Instagram make it very easy for ads to be shown to you based on what you like. This manipulative act may seem harmless but affects your life in many ways. These ads often contain false marketing that is meant to convince you of falling for whatever is being offered. This can lead to someone making impulsive financial decisions and losing out on some serious money. In theory, a reader should not be immediately influenced by what they encounter. Sadly, the way technology is starting to be a huge role in society this is the sad truth. Being cautious of what a reader is reading and locating specific information that can be identified as reliable, will help eliminate this problem. Fake news is simply just another way of categorizing bad journalism.
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