Originally posted on Facebook:
Where to start or how to address this, I'm actually not sure, so bear with me!
We all know about 'fake news'. We've probably mostly heard Donald Trump trying to discredit everything against him as 'fake news'. But have we ever really stopped to think about it and the consequences it can have?
A classic Wikipedia definition of Fake News is:
'a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media.'
So in other words, it is information that is deliberately untrue, and can be spread via social media or indeed in a paper or radio story.
The thing to focus on here is that it is DELIBERATELY untrue and likely originally shared with the INTENTION of being spread.
So it's presence on your timeline is not an accident.
But why on earth would someone inject something that they know isn't true onto social media platforms?
In my OPINION (and as always please feel free to give me yours, too!) it's surely for one of a handful of reasons:
1) To cause confusion
2) To deliberately stir tensions
3) To make people believe that something IS true, for personal gain or amusement
4) All of the above 😂
So with that in mind, consider how easy it is to share something, on Facebook in particular. Something comes up on our timeline, and as I've really found out (and shared with you on a previous post!) these past few days, we either connect with it - ie, we have emotions of anger/grief/sadness/laughter/sympathy etc. - and we 'react' (likes/shares/comments), or we don't connect with it, so we scroll by.
Then there is the in-between, where you read it but continue to scroll without physically reacting to it.
Often these 'fake news' stories provoke emotions of anger, excitement, or sympathy, since we know all of those can be pretty strong, and they're also the emotions that trigger quick decisions - without having to use the rational part of our brains.
The issue is, when we see things like this - and I use the picture of the horse as an example since it's doing the rounds at the moment - we feel sympathy for the horse (a poor defenceless creature that was just doing it's job) and anger towards the person who caused the 'suffering' (this particular horse is physically unharmed and very much alive!) so we share it. Of course. To make sure everyone knows that we feel emotional about it (we feel angry), and also to inform others about what has happened.
The secondary consequence of that is that the people now on YOUR timeline, see that coming from YOU (who would have no real reason to create fake news), so they also share it, in good faith, because they too are 'triggered' by these emotions.
The third order consequence of this action is that we now have 2 people (so we've already DOUBLED the reach) who are angry.
As we all know, anger doesn't often just 'go'. It needs to be released and so is often targeted at someone or a group of people, or an idea, or movement or whatever it is that you feel caused your anger, or sometimes just at whoever happens to be standing in your firing line.
And so, as Facebook almost encourages, it gets shared and shared and shared by usually well-meaning people who are led by emotion. And that is very rarely a smart thing to lead by.
The fourth order consequence of your sharing, means that - because we mostly have a timeline of people we know/have things in common with - you are now 'surrounded' by this anger-inducing image or post. So you stay angry. And because people see that you (in their eyes, a sensible person) have shared things like that, they too share things that are similar, making the same mistake of not checking where the information has come from, or if it is true.
And so begins the cycle of a timeline that is tailored to your emotions, not facts. Let's not forget that the point of this is it is DELIBERATE.
So someone INTENDED you to feel this angry/upset, and to make your peers just as angry and upset.
What are they expecting you to do with this anger?
Direct it at the group of people that you feel are responsible. Remember that this group haven't actually done the thing you're angry at them for. Fair? Nope. Easy to do? Yep.
Easy to not do next time? Yep.
But by the time YOU realise it's fake news, the people who shared it from your timeline have already had shares of their own. It's like catching a fart. Too late, the damage is done.
And now we've got an angry mob, angry for something that didn't happen, at people who didn't do it.
But try telling someone you're innocent when they're angry. Try telling someone you haven't done something when their friend/mother/brother has told them you have. And they've got a 'picture to prove it' 🤷🏽♀️
So yeah. Fake news is dangerous.