Help required for fake news research

Hello, we are students conducting a research on ‘How does fake news affect people and how it is aided by new age communication’. To do this we need your help. Please share your opinions on these subjects:

  1. Why do you think people believe in fake news?
  2. Where do you draw the line between fake news and freedom of speech?
  3. Who do you think has the greatest responsibility in stopping the spread of fake news?
  4. Who do you think is behind the spread of fake news?
  5. Who is the most vulnerable to fake news?

We would appreciate it if you help us by giving us your comments on the following subjects.

~ Aashman

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  1. It confirms to their biases and they have limited knowledge on technology used to manipulate such data( like vfx)
  2. It is important that freedom of speech is does not become a means of profiting off ignorance. It is difficult to suggest a stringent legal action but dismissal of lack of journalistic standards should not be accepted by the society
  3. The people who spread it be it the publishers, bloggers ,forwarders or algorithms that favour engagement to make people click on ads.
  4. A counter-productive model for the internet fueled by our thirst for “free” . The filter bubbles make it difficult for a switch to truly free/libre alternatives
  5. The people who are schooled to think that words are proof, especially those who rely on social media or any algorithmic feed for news. (It is not rare for Online Media to run false news that algorithms and copy-culture magnify)

I Think the book Trust Me I’m lying By Ryan Holiday would give you great insight into this.


Please do refer to Claire Wardel’s work at First Draft :

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  1. Acting without reading: Reading is fundamental to differentiate between fake and real news.
  2. Popularity cues after acceptance (memes for an eg)
  3. Political leaning
  4. Somehow fake news stick even when presented with facts.
  5. If fake news is shared by a person in authority, people tend not to question it.
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1- humans don’t instantly buy fake news, the important thing to understand is, its an entire ecosystem with vested interests and narratives. While there are single point fake news items, the bigger threat is the narrative based fake news ecosystem. Humans buy it because they come across it again and again, in different settings, on different platforms, but they share a single narrative, so even if one is skeptical of what they read, they eventually cave in and buy it.

2- There will always be misinformation, instead of focusing on somehow restricting it and censoring it, which is tricky, we need to equip internet users with the ability to cross-check and verify the content they read. In the long term that is the best approach.

3 - Educators, if we teach scientific integrity and freethinking through the schooling system, we’d be better equipped to handle the fake news crisis.

4 - There is no single layer to it, there are multiple aspects to who creates/propagates misinformation, most of the times it’s political and fringe conspiracy theorists. But also it is the nature of misinformation, to spread like wildfire, it is clickbaity.

5 - Digitally illiterate masses, which is almost 99% of the internet users. What we need to understand is fake news is almost always passively building opinions, it’s rarely active.

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  1. Fake news is packaged in such a way that it attracts the reader’s attention. With catchy or outlandish headlines, it hooks readers to read and believe it instantly. Fake news serves to affirm the confirmation bias of readers, as it will be mostly packaged to surprise, shock, or reaffirm a particular view.
  2. When the impact of fake news is dangerous to law and order or defames the reputation of citizens or groups in the eyes of the public, then it can attract legal action. Note that Freedom of Speech is not absolute and is always subject to reasonable restrictions.
  3. Everybody and anybody can stop fake news. Question the source, relevance, and context of fake news and do not blindly believe in anything that is dished out as news. So, education of citizens about how news is produced professionally and how fake news can be detected will help. One simple step is to check traditional news sources like esteemed newspapers.
  4. Anybody who wants to alter public opinion to a particular way instead of multiple alternative viewpoints typically will have a greater interest in fake news. One common feature of fake news is highly charged emotions or shocking videos.
  5. Heavy users of social media are more vulnerable because there is no verification on forwards. Those who receive forwards do not know how fake news can be checked. So, the solution is to build ‘critical thinking’ instead of blindly believing and forwarding everything on social media.
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Hi Aashman, this sounds like an exciting project! I’d encourage you to read this article by Zeynek Tufekci. I don’t guarantee that it will answer all your questions, but it will definitely give you more food for thought! Good luck and do keep us posted about the outcome of your research, if possible! :slight_smile:

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