Exposed: The Shocking Truth About Fake News

The recent surge in online fake news during the concluding stages of the presidential race has emerged as a troubling revelation, posing a significant threat to the democratic process of the country. The tangible consequences of this phenomenon have already materialized, as evidenced by an incident where a man, influenced by fake news linking a Washington, D.C. pizza shop to a fabricated Clinton-led child sex ring, entered the establishment wielding an AR-15 assault rifle and discharged shots on December 4.

While much attention has been directed towards the origins of these false articles, whether from teenagers in Macedonia or satirical news outlets, and the responsibility of platforms like Facebook and Google in curbing their dissemination, a critical aspect often overlooked is the psychology behind online news consumption. Understanding this aspect is crucial in combating what has been termed by The New York Times as a “digital virus.”

The notion of confirmation bias, where individuals seek information that aligns with their existing beliefs regardless of its veracity, has been put forward as a potential root cause. However, this explanation falls short in explaining why people readily accept fake news even on nonpartisan topics. A more compelling argument lies in our tendency to overlook the credibility of news sources, known in academia as “professional gatekeeping.”

Over two decades of studying online news consumption have revealed a striking pattern: readers often disregard the significance of journalistic sourcing, showing a laissez-faire attitude towards the credibility of the information they consume. This lack of discernment, coupled with the challenge of identifying reliable sources amidst the vast array of online content, contributes significantly to the widespread acceptance of fake news.

The evolution of online news consumption, from Usenet newsgroups in the 1980s to the current era dominated by social media platforms, has eroded the traditional gatekeeping role of news agencies and editors. Direct access to millions of followers by politicians and celebrities via social media bypasses the rigorous vetting and fact-checking processes employed by traditional media, facilitating the rapid spread of unverified information.

One key aspect influencing our perception of news credibility is the phenomenon of “source layering,” where multiple intermediaries are involved in transmitting a news item. This complexity can obscure the original source, leading readers to rely on the immediate vehicle that delivers the news rather than scrutinizing the credibility of the underlying source.

The personalized nature of online platforms further exacerbates this issue. When news is encountered within a personalized environment, such as a social media feed curated by friends or a customized news portal, individuals tend to lower their skepticism and are more susceptible to fake news. This heightened trust in familiar sources, combined with a diminished inclination to question the credibility of information, creates an environment conducive to the proliferation of misinformation.

Related posts

NYT’s Shocking Obsession: Will UFO Reports Ever End?


Unbelievable Twist: ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Deepfake?


Explosive Revelation: Paul McCartney Death Conspiracy Unraveled