#FakeNews. These days you can hardly open a newspaper without some kind of article or mention of it. The recent US elections, with the internet as a catalyst have popularised the term enormously. While known before the elections as simple propaganda or lies, the recent US-elections have opened the doors for a new market segment: FakeNews and with it, the very concept of #fakeNews.
Can you remember a time before these elections, that we the consumers of news would accuse the mainstream media of being fake news? Biased? Yes! Partisan? Absolutely! Incomplete? You bet! But Fake? That’s a pretty new. Moreover, it has now become an insult and a catchphrase, a tool to take credibility away from one source, and load it into another.
It has only been a week now that the White House has launched it very own news service. The final words of the previously at CNN employed journalists couldn’t be more obvious “This is the real news” contrary to those other news outlets that report, you said it, #FakeNews.
Fake news is not a recent development. Made up stories to discredit opponents, to sell newspapers or for any other reason,… it has been around for a very long time. Even Vlad Tepez, the medieval Wallachian Voivode had to deal with fake news that Saxon dukes spread about him.
As with journalism itself, you can almost endlessly talk about fake news. What are the reasons? What’s the result? Which role did it play in history? What about fake news and history books? How much ‘fake news’ are we learning today? Accidental fake news? Soft fake news? And on and on it goes. Already early on, people in power realised that knowledge is power and deciding what knowledge is could arguably be even more powerful. Convince two enemies that one is going to attack the other based on fabricated and fake information and… profit. Or, in the case of Gustav III of Sweden, who launched a fake story about a Russian attack to allow a defensive war to take place, you lose the war.
Whether the story is created for political, religious, hateful, chauvinistic or simply for monetary reasons, be critical of any story that you read, and whenever you make a decision based on the news that you read, verify it, make sure that what you read is sound, sourced and repeated elsewhere. This goes for elections, ralies, referendums, political decisions, support and so on.