Year after year, it has become more and more difficult to tell what’s fake and what isn’t
Journalism has a commitment to facts and telling the truth, but there have always been cases in which false information has been published as true. There have even been journalists who have taken advantage of their position to publish lies.
The Internet grants anonymity and contributes to the massive distribution of information, which has allowed even more people to publish false information without control.
These are some of the fake news which succeeded in fooling a lot of people:
2010: Fake news in tradition Press
Tomaso De Benedetti was an Italian journalist who would always get the best interviews with the most relevant characters for his provincial newspaper. De Benedetti came to interview the writer Mario Vargas Llosa or the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, but it was soon discovered that he had actually made those interviews up.
He was later discovered when another editor of his newspaper interviewed the American writer Philip Roth. The journalist asked him about some statements he had made in an interview with De Benedetti, something the writer assured he had never said.
2012: from Paper to Internet
The danger of the Internet is that someone like De Benedetti can publish information without any control, despite having been discovered as a fraud. One of his preferred practices was to announce the death of celebrities on Twitter.
Once, De Benedetti published on several false accounts the death of Cuab leader Fidel Castro. To make his lies seem even more real, he would use false accounts of politicians to retweet the information he was publishing. As a result, a great deal of the media mistakenly announced Castro’s death.
2013: Widely-shared news does not make it true
Fake news are a business. For this reason, more and more false news uses flashy headlines: this is how they are shared more often by social networks and generate more income for their creators.
The downside is that the more you share a story, the more likely it is that the media will take it for granted. Here are a couple of examples of false news that circulated on the net:
-Wolf strolling around lockers in Sochi Olympic Games
There were actually no wolves in the Sochi changing rooms. It was a joke by the athlete Kate Hansen and the presenter Jimmy Kimmel, but some media like the CNN were fooled and published the video as true.
-Banker leaves 1% tip at a restaurant
This information was published while some Americans were protesting against the financial powers with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The news left the Wall Street bankers in question and that’s why it was shared so many times, but in reality it was all false. Even so, the Huffington Post digital newspaper published it.
2015: Pictures can be fake too
There isn’t just false information going around the internet in form of text: there are numerous cases of photographs that have deceived both journalists and readers.
Nowadays it is quite easy to tweak a photograph and modify it without noticing the difference with the original one. Some people use this technique to distribute fake photos or send them to the media.
This next photo was published with an article on Venezuela’s crisis, a country who’s struggling to get products of daily use into supermarkets. Looks real, doesn’t it?
In fact, this is the real one:
The photo was actually not taken in Venezuela, but in Texas. There were few products on the counters because the US region was about to suffer the impact of a hurricane and people emptied the supermarket anticipating that they wouldn’t be able to shop in several days.
2016: Fake news getting into Politics
The expression fake news became very popular in 2016. This term became widely used during the US elections, an electoral process that was followed by millions of people around the world.
Those publishing fake news realized that they could earn a lot of money if they wrote about the elections, because it was a widely looked up and shared topic on the net. And the more shocking the stories were … the more they people shared them!
These are some of the headlines that were shared the most on social and which was later taken as true: Pope Francis surprises the world and supports Donald Trump or The leader of ISIS calls American Muslims to vote for Hillary Clinton.