False information can spur from misinformed social media posts by ordinary people who are sucked up in a moment of excitement and spread their fervor into cyberspace. Thus, creating a social media firestorm.
If you’re a user of the internet, then you have surely come across false content due to the cyber effect of “whisper down the lane” in today’s digital mass media. According to Pew Research, four in 10 Americans receive their news online. Because of sophisticated algorithms distributing aggregated, curated content, it is not easy for users to identify fake news and allow real news to surface. Instead, the stories become viral or start to trend. With the speed and demand of social media, users are not keen on fact-checking but rather, they are eager to be “in the know” by spreading new information rapidly.
Mobile News Consumption Rapidly Rising
- 80% of Twitter users are solely on mobile
- 54% of Facebook users are solely on mobile
- 100% of Instagram & Snapchat users require a mobile device for publishing content
With the accessibility and surge of mobile users, we are seeing an ever increasing number of fake stories perpetuated as social media is at the fingertips of many users around the world with no filters on news distinguishing the credibility of the content. It is easy to put the spotlight on the fake election stories spreading throughout the web, however, they are not the only targets of fake news stories. From various celebrity death hoaxes to a claim that CNN aired porn, users need to be ever vigilant before they hit the share button. Subconsciously, people rely on volume of interaction such as following, tweets, likes, etc, to determine if the source is true and begin engaging into it themselves. While major players such as Google and Facebook have begun to take responsible actions against the perpetuation of these fake stories, we as users still bear the moral obligation of upholding our association with the media that we distribute.
“A click-bait worthy tweet sounds like catnip to reporters, who take the info as fact, and run with it.”
– USA Today