On Fake News

Fake news has been a great topic of interest in recent years – why though? According to research, fake news has been around ever since the 13th century, but why is it that there is a greater spotlight shone on it only now?

If you don’t already know, fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via media sources (both print, online, and even via broadcast). The intent behind publication could be to mislead consumers, sensationalise things, or even to damage someone/something.

I guess my first memorable encounter with fake news had mostly to do with Hollywood celebrities – I remember that a few years ago, there were many articles on the late Michael Jackson’s death. But, at that time, he had not passed on yet. Media sources were just speculating his death and cause of death, and publishing fake news in order to increase readership, online sharing, and internet click revenue.

Even locally, in Singapore, where I live, there are many encounters of fake news daily – and the one I remember most had also to do with a prominent figure’s death. Similarly, he had not passed on at that time, but many news sites published articles on his death and the causes for it. I remember being confused and unsure on whether to believe the news, because there was so much conflicting information and “news” circulating. 

Fake news can be extremely dangerous, and can undermine legitimate media coverage, making it harder for “real” and “significant” news stories to garner traction. In recent years, there has been more attention brought towards it, largely due to its potential political impact.

These days, it is confusing and hard to draw the line between real, legitimate news and fake news. A prime example would be Donald Trump, who popularises the term to describe negative press coverage about himself. Is this really considered fake news? Or just negative news?

It is important for one to understand what fake news is, and be aware when we come across fake news/fake news outlets.