Fake news has dominated real news over the past few months, from its close association with President Trump, to the rise in the number of media platforms being penalised for deliberately deceiving their readers.
But it would appear the concept has been around since the early 20th Century when Orson Welles initiated the first ‘fake news story’ by scaring the nation into thinking aliens were taking over the human race in 1938… queue the release of War of the Worlds, which snowballed into one of the most memorable public shaming events in history.
Fast forward 79 years and fake news is still prominent, albeit with seemingly milder repercussions. Stories published online fabricated from a grain of truth are promoted via social media platforms, which over two thirds of us use as our main news source.
Despite Google’s efforts to clamp down on the fake news epidemic – banning over 200 publishers from Adsense in the past year – it continues to impact the way we think, speak and relay news to others.
As a nation, we are scanning content for only one second on average and being inoculated with misinformation – preemptively exposing us to a small amount of the truth so that the brain constructs a particular bias. By the time the article has been checked for facts, the perception is already in place.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? Well to start, brand trust is imperative. It is our job to respect and protect the trust of the brands we look after with useful, honest and reliable content that encourages loyalty. With less than one in 20 adults being able to correctly identify fake over real content, messaging must be clear and concise, particularly when in the news.
Then as readers, it is also our responsibility to question everything, also known as evidence thinking. We have to question whether Pope Francis is indeed a full supporter of Trump’s recent appointment, as opposed to cherry picking the information we want to hear.
Just as Donald says, “the leaks are real, the news is fake” (2017).