Fake news are understood as a virus in the web: do you know how they work?
On June 2015, a youngster from California uploaded on Facebook a picture of what looked like a shredded rat, served at a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise restaurant.
The picture was shared thousands of times through social media and the original post had millions of views. In just a few days, the story was published in the media around the world… But, in the end, everything wasfake news, it wasn’t true.
That did not stop that the famous “deep fried rat”, as it is known on the internet, to lead to other fake informations: such as in the United States every year they serve over 100,000 kg of rat meat in restaurants.
Fake news are untrue articles which are spreaded on social media, the veracity of which is hard to check.
The fast-food chain had to do a DNA test to deny the story, but the damage had already been done.
What happens on the internet… reaches the world
Thanks to the internet, we can know what happens on the other side of the world in just a few minutes. This has a positive side: the democratisation of information, meaning, anyone who has access to the internet can inform and be informed.
But it also has a negative side and that is that lies, defamations and incorrect informations spread quickly everywhere. Lies have always existed, but the internet makes them spread quicker/faster.
Information: a powerful weapon
Beyond confusing people and inventing news for fun, information can also be a powerful weapon.
Some people use it to create opinion and to position people in favour or against certain decisions, movements and activities. Governments have also joined this new trend of fake news to try and undermine their political rivals.
Russia spreads fake informations about the European Union, Donald Trump’s press team spreads fake informations about the democrat candidate Hillary Clinton…
Knowing how to learn the news and understand them is key to distinguish between information which is true and fake news. That’s why there have been dozens of institutions and websites created which specialise in detecting this type of information: News Literacy Project, Snopes, Fact Check, PolitiFact…