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Fake News: Fake News "Enablers"

How to tell real news from fake

Why does Fake News Exist?

As more individuals become aware that Fake News exists and have identified it as a major problem, why is it still a "thing"? 

Here are some contributing factors to the continued proliferation of Fake News:

Fake News as Business

Those who produce fake news may have any number of personal or political agendas. However, many if not most fake news writers are driven primarily by monetary gain. By running ads on their sites, they can potentially make a significant amount of money against the minor costs of starting a simple website. The following brief video explains how this works:

 

 

The articles below provide additional examples of fake news as a money maker for their writers. (Note: The writers interviewed are producers of fake news - you should be wary of the information they provide in their interviews.)

Content adapted from Central  Washington University Libraries

Confirmation Bias

It is important to recognize that fake news is not the problem of any one class or section of society. While education plays a major role in determining an individual's ability to analyze information, both well educated and poorly educated groups are made vulnerable to fake news by their own biases. 

Confirmation bias refers to the human tendency to seek out information that supports one's existing beliefs, and to reject, ignore, downplay, or reinterpret information that contradicts them (Heshmat, 2015). Because of this phenomenon, it may take more of an effort to refute fake news designed for consumption by people of one's own political persuasion.

 

Filter Bubbles, Algorithms, and Social Media

A "filter bubble" refers to a phenomenon that occurs with Google, Facebook and many other websites. 

They use algorithms to track user preferences (what users click on and what search terms they use) along with user's personal information to send them news, updates, and advertising that are consistent with those preferences. So the exact same search, using exactly the same search words, can return different results for different individuals. 

This has led to the emergence of "filter bubbles" and consequent "echo chambers" in online communities, in which consumption of particular kinds of Web content is constantly reinforced regardless of its quality.

According to internet activist, Eli Pariser:

 “Your filter bubble is your own personal unique universe of information that you live in online. What’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do. But, you don’t decide what gets in – and more importantly, you don’t see what gets edited out.”

Watch his TED Talk here:  

 

One way to avoid getting filtered results from Web searches is by using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that does not track user information.

Image of Duck Duck Go Search Engine

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