People in business need to be able to discern the difference between fake and real news. It’s essential. Companies need to make decisions based on reality – not on the false proclamations of some random journalist posting on social media.
The problem, however, is that the majority of people aren’t actually good at determining whether an article is fake or not. Most of the time, the material is presented as a genuine news story without any disclaimer informing the reader that it is false. The temptation is always to take it at face value, incorporating it into your business plans.
Fake news is usually entirely made-up stories, but it can also be stories that have sections of valid information combined with incorrect information. Historically, it was satire, but this was usually known to readers.
So, you might ask: what is being done about this? It turns out that the fightback has begun, and it isn’t coming from where you might think. While big tech is playing a role, the main initiatives are coming from librarians – people who have a deep understanding of news media and the news cycle. Librarians are becoming gatekeepers of the truth, determining what fact is and what is fiction for the people they serve.
As the following infographic shows, fake news is a substantial issue. Not only is it lucrative, but it is also chipping away at the foundation of democracy itself. We need effective countermeasures that prevent fake news from manipulating people and providing false information.
Infographic by University of Southern California
Photo illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast