Fake news is a term many were unfamiliar with just a year ago, but one that has had significant impact on the American political arena. Fake news is any news published with the intent of misguiding potential readers with false information. Fake news can be published from an entity with the intent to misguide for political purposes, or can be created in order to make a monetary gain based on click advertisements.
— Keystone Resources (@KR_Creative) January 13, 2017
At the January 2017 Social Media Breakfast Houston, we had experts on the subject of social media and political influence come and speak on the topic of fake news, Wikileaks, free speech, and politics. They raised important questions about the future of breaking news in America, and spoke on the role that fake news could play in the corporate world.
Mike McGuff, who is a seasoned blogger and veteran of television, radio, and newspaper media and Dallas Jones, President/CEO of ELITE Change Inc. and a political analyst for Fox 26, took on the hot topic of “fake news,” and the impact it has on not only politics, but everyday business as well.
Shifting the blame
Fake news can easily be used as a method of shifting the blame to others when problems occur. Large corporations can simply point the finger at the media anytime a troublesome piece is written, regardless of the truth the article may or may not hold. “Sometimes fake news really is fake news,” but the distinction can be hard to make in an era where new stories are released by the minute.
— Sara Samora (@TheReinventions) January 13, 2017
Creators of fake news
One surprising group who took advantage of misinformation for a monetary gain was citizens of Macedonia, a small country in the Balkan Peninsula. Citizens of this country produced headlines during the election such as, “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President” and “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead of Apparent Murder-Suicide.” Read more fake news headlines here.
Even more surprising is the amount of money made by producing these articles; thousands of Euros every day. College students could copy and paste a few articles, slap on a catchy title, and make good money in an area where the average monthly income is 350 Euros.
The new 5:00 news team
While still on the topic of news, our guests discussed social media as a ‘news outlet’ of sorts. In the pre live-tweeting days of the early 2000s, news was revealed on television. Things have changed since then, and gone are the days of the 5:00 news team breaking news.
News has to be broken immediately in order for large media companies to release the story first, and what better outlet is there for them to release this news than social media? Millions of people can be reached within seconds, with the click of a finger.
Our speakers finished on the subject of free speech and the release of information. Wikileaks played a huge role in this past year’s election, and their involvement made some question how far ‘free speech’ should go.
Our panel tackled this question, and Dallas came to a conclusion that “free speech is the bedrock of our great society; the ability for the free press to give us information, and for us to believe that information is accurate, is essential.”
It will be interesting to see where a Trump presidency will take us in terms of legislation and action against “fake news.” Regardless of political belief, change will be coming.