No, Christmas hasn’t been banned. No, Michelle Obama didn’t give her mother a $160K pension. No, the earth isn’t flat (or is it?). For the most part, we can spot fake news from a mile off. But, the very concept of fake news can be extremely dangerous when it plays with people’s health.
The latest stream of fictitious journalism to circulate is the misinformation of modern-day vaccinations, making false claims that cause very real fears amongst new parents.
With huge online communities banding together with the sole aim to pass on fake or ill-researched information, it’s near impossible for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to simply block content like this.
But why do people put so much time and effort into creating fake content?
In short – for money.
A shocking or controversial headline is bound to get more click-throughs (leading to more AdSense). These fake news sites have much less competition when it comes to their stories. Anyone can report on the truth, as many of us have access to the same studies, research and public expert opinions. But if you’re making it up as you go, you’re no longer competing with the hundreds of other media outlets writing the same story. And now, you have a monopoly on your own story.
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have all been trying to tackle this issue by blocking information from disreputable sources. But for instances like the fake news on modern-day vaccinations, Instagram are hoping to go one step beyond by providing a pop-up message for those seeking vaccine information. This ensures users are being sent to a reputable source and gaining access to the truth.
Despite being in the early stages of rolling out fake news tools, the final product should help make the internet a more trustworthy place.