As we have discussedduring the course of this class, the term “fake news” has only become popular withinthe last two years, yet it is currently one of the biggest issues that mediaethics has ever faced. Throughout history we have seen news that has beenmisreported or fabricated in many forms, but fake news stands out because therehas never been such a public outcry against unverified news. By the end of 2016many professors on IUPUI’s campus were encouraging students to use websiteslike “AllSides”, “Fact Check”, and “Media Matters” to take a second look atclaims made by politicians and even journalists. As I began to question why itwas not till 2016 that the public began to take fake news seriously, I foundthat Facebook had a big role in that. This is due to the massive presence offake news on Facebook feeds and the speculation that fake news on this socialmedia platform helped the current president, Donald Trump, win the election.
“The US electionserved as a breeding ground for fake news, which reportedly sometimesoutperformed real news on Facebook,” stated Business Insider writer, HannahRoberts. During the months that led to the 2016 election, I saw many of myFacebook friends post and share news stories that were misleading, sloppilyreported, or in some cases totally made up. I remember how my high school choirteacher posted a story of a DNC staffer who was murdered after agreeing totestify against Hillary Clinton (“Seth Rich Homicide”, n.d.). Additionally, mydevoted Catholic aunt shared with excitement how Pope Francis endorsed DonaldTrump (“Nope Frances”, n.
d.). News stories are supposed to help ordinary voterslike my choir teacher and aunt understand the world around them, yet those closeto me were being misled to believe and stand behind fabricated headlines. According to a 2016Reuters Digital News Report, 51 percent of people access online news throughsocial media, making sites like Facebook the world’s most influential”editors”. There is no doubt that Facebook needs to consider every option toprevent people from abusing their platform, and leaders are working on doingthis (“Facebook’s Latest Fix for Fake News: Ask Users What They Trust”, 2018).However, I understand that because this site is designed to give us, theeveryday users, the ability to publish our own content, it is extremelydifficult to properly scan every post for accuracy.
For that reason, I stronglybelieve that it is up to Facebook users to know how to actively examine onlinenews sources before believing what is written. The way Facebook users could dothis would include understanding the political leanings of certain news sites,analyzing domain names or URLs to make sure they are legitimate or recognizingpoor web design. At the end of the day, consuming news effectively requires usall to be vigilant about what we are reading, listening or watching, andfiguring out who created what content and for what purpose. Unfortunately,journalism has some challenging years ahead if news continues to be misreportedand fabricated, people receive their news solely from one source, and politicsbecomes more polarized.