by Hailey Nettler & Kyle Shirk
Adding to what is already a confusing and controversial time period in American history, fake news and false media outlets have spurred confusion and disbelief throughout the country. When logging onto Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it is difficult to determine what is truly happening in society versus what is not. More people are spreading fake news by writing and sharing flawed stories on social media.
Since the beginning of news media publication, there have always been untrustworthy sites available to the public. However, there has been an increase in the amount of controversy over certain content, especially during and following the presidential election.
According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of adults are getting their news from social media accounts. But the problem is not how many people are using social media for news, it is how hard those sites are working to limit the the spread of false news. Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg said two weeks ago, “We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously,” according to The New York Times.
The Washington Post reported on Paul Horner, a man known to post hoaxes online, many of them addressing this past election. Horner said in his interview: “[Trump’s] campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.” Horner continued, “Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots.”
Hi’s Eye reached out to Horner and asked how false news affects the issues around us, including this past election. His response, via Facebook messaging: “It makes people question their news and fact check. Not sure if it had anything to do with the election, I’m still thinking about that.” Hi’s Eye asked if he feels any regrets over the stories he’s published. Horner’s response: “No.”
Even students are understanding the falsehood within today’s news.
“When you read the headlines, you are going to want to read the article,” said freshman Nick Martini. “But you can’t always believe what you see. You have to make sure it’s true.”
When people read stories—unless it is a satirical website, like The Onion—they are likely to assume that what is written is true. When people read a “breaking news” headline that seems legitimate, they may very well believe it. As technology progresses, there are more outlets for people to spread news, whether it is real or not. So now a big problem is that these outlets may not be beneficial to the world of news.
“Headlines work like rumors; if you hear enough times that something is true, even without any backup, you will still think it’s true,” said WHS English Teacher Ms. Nicole Scimone, who served as Hi’s Eye adviser for five years.
“There’s often an abundance of articles on seemingly the same topics and again it’s that strength in numbers—the more you see a headline, the more it sticks in your memory and the more you assume it to be truth.”