Getting Lied To Sucks: Fake News and How to Fight It

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Fake news has been a hot topic since the unfortunate presidential election—you’re probably just as tired of the term “fake news” as you are of seeing that tiny-fingered egomaniac point his fingers at any reputable news source that dares challenge his reign. But moving on from the topic seems fairly premature, as our presidential leader keeps crying “fake news!” at any chance he gets.

Here are a few of the stories that have made fake news a hot topic among credible news sources lately.

1. Real Fake News

Fake news is not a new phenomenon, but it took center stage during the recent presidential election. And while Trump supporters weren’t necessarily the only ones spreading lies, they were definitely more common culprits. In fact, lots of incredulous stories populating American-sounding websites actually originated far away, in a little Macedonian town called Veles, where a group of teenagers got rich fast by churning out an endless slew of sensationalist stories. These teenagers raked in thousands of dollars running pro-Trump websites and sharing provocative stories that went viral over 5,000 miles away. While it’s impossible to say how much these fake stories impacted the election, they sure didn’t help Hillary’s cause.

FakeNews.sucks, and while we’re at it, ProfitingOffLies.sucks too—avoid clicking on the bait and make sure you’re opening news stories from reputable sources.

2. Fake News According to Trump

Since Donald Trump took oath, real news stories have been so outrageous that the fake ones have seemed more believable than usual. But a new threat has emerged: the president’s continuous accusations that true stories are fake. In fact, “fake!” seems to be Donald’s new favorite word, just after “weak!”, “bad!” and “HUUUUGE!” This month alone, the 45th American president tweeted about fake news 14 times. According to him, some of the most notable news sources, including The New York Times and CNN, are liars.

Trump also refuses to answer to reporters asking difficult questions. By condemning unfavorable news through his presidential platform, Trump is essentially censoring the press—or at the very least, endangering democracy.

PressCensorship.sucks, and we don’t stand for it. Consider getting a subscription to your favourite publication and letting the president know that you support the press—we all know he reads his @tweets.

3. Facebook Steps Up

In the midst of all the chaos caused by distorted stories during the campaign, Facebook was thrown into the line of fire. When dubious news stories went viral, it was often via the social media giant. Recently, fake news writers have been using Facebook’s live broadcasting tool to share fabricated silent clips that incorporate Facebook’s polling function to pique users’ curiosity while propagating more lies. This doesn’t sit right with Mark Zuckerberg, or other U.S. tech giants for that matter. In preparation for the federal election in Germany, the tech giant is rolling up its sleeves to prevent a new surge in bogus news. A few improvements include user reporting, working with external fact-checkers and banning fake news websites from using Facebook ads.

Propaganda.sucks and we shouldn’t let fake news skew our elections. Enough is enough! Report fake stories in your feed to push back against the trend.

4. Sleeping Giants Lend a Hand

Online activism may prove key in the fight against fake news. One organization has turned to social media to take a stand against Breitbart, described by the site’s executive chairman Steve Bannon as a platform for the alt-right. Need a refresher? The alt-right is a growing movement that shuns establishment conservatism, embraces white nationalism and promotes racism and misogyny. Yes, that’s the same Steve Bannon that Donald Trump appointed as chief strategist. Are you worried, yet? Sleeping Giants makes it easy to take a stand against Breitbart by going after the site’s advertisers. A simple screenshot and a tweet can wreak havoc in digital advertising, causing companies to pull their ads and launch counter campaigns. Is your curiosity piqued? Head on over to Twitter to check out @slpng_giants.

Breitbart.sucks, but y’all knew that already. If you see Breitbart advertised on other sites, or see a brand you once respected advertising on Trump’s favorite propagandist website, don’t stay quiet. Take a screenshot and send it to @slpng_giants, then let them do the dirty work.

The Takeaway

Fake news not only impedes objective reporting, but it also reminds us how fragile democracy is. Unfavorable news stories might hurt his fragile ego, but Trump needs to thicken his skin and stop trying to control the press or the public opinion.

If you find actual fake news deplorable, share your voice with thousands of others on a site like BeingLiedto.sucks, FakeNews.sucks or CensoringthePress.sucks. Join the conversation today.

Photos: Flickr / Fibonacci Blue, Flickr / Thomas Cizauskas, Flickr / Dan Farber

 

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