If I earned a dollar for every discourse existing under a suspicious article there is on the internet, heaven forbids but my face would be on Forbes magazine for 12 consecutive issues.
The context of my metaphor is just as scary as the social media turmoil caused by writers who intend to mislead their readers for the sole purpose of progressing on their personal gain.
The robust grip of fake news in our society – if you ask me – is only perpetuated by constant support of people who remove the basic fact-checking skill in their system.
Just a few nights ago, I saw a post by Mocha Uson who, I remind you, is now the Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office. The said post had pictures of men who she identified as the Philippine army set to battle the terrorists in Marawi. Several hours later, it was revealed that the soldiers in the photo were actually Central American policemen.
Being in a nation with a huge number of social media “devotees”, I highly bet on the fact that we still have a lot to learn when it comes to verifying sources and assessing the validity of the informant. Given this kind of situation, we definitely lacked the mandatory media-savvy.
The mere fact that Uson’s post reached the screens of many social media users rapidly gives us the notion that disseminating fake news is as easy and fast as repopulating a hundred rabbit hutches – if you know what I mean.
In November 1978, around 900 followers of the Peoples Temple, a religious movement in Jonestown, were reported dead after cult leader James Jones asked his followers to drink a Kool Aid-esque juice infused with cyanide, Phenergan, Valium, and chloral hydrate as a political rebellion.
Only a few of the supporters knew what was really in the drink, the other followers were only led to believe that drinking the Kool Aid means they are against the U.S. government. The “fake news” turned out to be their stairway to death.
The terrifying truth about this tragedy still happens today but in a different type of concealment. People tend to have their attention be trapped inside the bait of incorrectness resulting to the decay of authenticity.
In order to spot fake news, I offer you three effortless ways, laid back Sherlock wannabe:
First, let us always look out for unusual URLs or site names, websites ending with ".co" try to appear as if they’re credible websites—but they aren’t!
Always check the "About Us" section of your source, find groups who are associated with the site; if small information does not exist then it is time you have to wonder why they aren't being transparent.
Look for other credible outlets—if they happen to share the same news, it is possible that what you have read is credible.
Our access to social media is both a blessing and a curse. Being skeptical from time to time shall build a strong armor against the abhorrent threat of fake news in our society.
(First published on The LANCE's June Issue)