Pablo Boczkowski considers fake news an “intrinsic component of any information ecology” (882). Indeed, the proliferation of fake news has got to the extent of raising concern in society as it impacts practically every aspect of life. While most of the population in society has the education and knowledge to detect fake news easily, many individuals are prone to believing false news (Baek et al. 301-323). Further, Swart and others agree that the availability of several social media platforms makes it easy for fake news to spread fast because people never stop to think about the authenticity of the information that they are sharing (190). This article examines the impact of fake news on our current informational society, how technology and social media platforms aid the spread of fake news, and why eliminating fake news from society might be problematic.
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First, fake news spread quickly because of three main reasons; ambivalence in the information infrastructure, the inability by many individuals to detect fake news, and the cultural authority of the knowledge crisis (Baek et al. 301-323). Unfortunately, misconstrued information has been around for a long time, and its impact on society is detrimental. The five profound impacts of fake news are creating distrust in the media, undermining the democratic processes, spreading discredited science, hiding the truth, and promoting violence. The distrust in the media makes people have difficulties getting the essential information they need for a regular and comfortable lifestyle. If the media does not have the credibility it deserves in society, it will lose its value. Because the media plays the role of a watchdog in society, this can significantly impact various aspects of government operations. The second impact of fake news is undermining the democratic process. Rogue politicians use fake news to achieve their selfish objectives without considering their actions’ impact on society. There are several ways fake news undermines the democratic processes, including shaping voter choices, bungling elections, changing the story, and upsetting transparency (Swart et al. 187-205). Without democracy, life will be unbearable for different groups in society. For instance, journalists will not have the freedom to express their thoughts without the fear of being victimized, which is likely to deny the freedom of obtaining or sharing information.
In addition to undermining the democratic process, fake news spreads false science, hurting society’s technology and health systems. For instance, the spread of fake news regarding the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines made some people fear going for the vaccine. This is making it hard for health systems to achieve their objectives of vaccinating their populations. All these are some of the things that can lead to the degradation of the quality of life.
The other impact of fake news is that it makes it hard for people to see the truth. Often, people use fake news to create a false perception about a topic or someone they have personal interests. Therefore, they will do anything possible to make it hard for people to detect that the information they are relying on is not authentic. If individuals cannot see the truth, it will be hard to make informed decisions that will positively shape their lives. An excellent example to demonstrate this point is someone making a financial decision based on false information. The chances are that they will spend more money than they would have if they had accurate information.
Finally, fake news can play a role in creating violence against people in the community. False rumors target particular groups in society, and the intention is to create fear. The targeted individuals may get harassed on social media platforms, which can sometimes seriously impact their lives. Also, misconstrued information brings up racist ideas in society. For example, if there is fake news about a given race attacking a country, people in the affected country may hate the race in question. The situation may even worsen if they do not realize that they are relying on false information to make their decisions.
The consequences of fake news on American society are not far from what Pablo Boczkowski discusses in his findings. Fake news has become a platform for hate speech and harmful conspiracy theories. Like in most countries around the world, politicians in American society use misconstrued information to influence voter choices so that they can get better chances of winning elections. Besides the political background, fake news has a profound impact on the medical field, where some individuals have had an opportunity to spread discredited information. The consequence is that people cannot make decisions that will enable them to lead a comfortable life. Technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and different social media platforms have made it easier for misconstrued information to spread (Wagner et al. 870-885).
Although the spread of fake news can profoundly impact society, bringing them to an end is not easy. Pablo Boczkowski indicates that “things are less likely to change drastically despite the widespread technical solutions” (870). However, transformations in reception practices and developing algorithms to identify sources that have repeatedly propagated false information can help curb fake news. Also, imposing restrictions on the sources known for propagating fake news may bring a temporal solution to the problem. Generally, bringing the problem of fake news to an ultimate end in the future is not easy.
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Baek, Young Min, Hyunhee Kang, and Sonho Kim. “Fake News Should be Regulated because it Influences both “others” and “me”: How and Why the Influence of Presumed Influence Model Should be Extended.” Mass Communication and Society, vol. 22.3 no.4, 2019, pp. 301-323. Web.
Swart, Joëlle, et al. “Sharing and Discussing News in Private Social Media Groups: The Social Function of News and Current Affairs in Location-Based, Work-oriented and Leisure-focused Communities.” Digital Journalism, vol. 7.2, no. 6 2019, pp. 187-205. Web.
Wagner, María Celeste, and Pablo J. Boczkowski. “The Reception of Fake News: The Interpretations and Practices that Shape the Consumption of Perceived Misinformation.” Digital Journalism, vol. 7.7, no. 6, 2019, pp. 870-885. Web.