What is fake news? You may have come across it in your social media feeds as well as in organic results on search engines. They are a never ending battle in the digital marketing world. Fake news is just what it sounds like – stories and articles deliberately written to misinform, confuse and influence viewers of something.

There are two types of fake news. The first one being stories that are 100% untrue. Meaning, they are deliberately invented and designed to make people believe in something that is untrue, to buy a certain product, or to visit a website. The second one relates to stories that are somewhat true, but are not 100% accurate. An example of this would be coverage of a conference attended by politicians. Some biased reporters make assertions that are not factually correct and are based on inferences and opinions.

While the concept of fake news stretches back to antiquity, it has become a large problem in recent years due to the ease with which it can be spread on social media and other online platforms, as people are often less likely to critically evaluate news shared by their friends or that confirms their existing beliefs. Fake news is alleged to have contributed to important political and economic outcomes in recent years.

Why Fake News Goes Viral | Social Media Marketing

Thousands of people are circulating fake news each day. You may be one of them. Why? It is because juicy headlines in our social media/search engine feeds make it easier for us to share content than to evaluate or even read the text in the links. This phenomenon is known as sound bites without substance.

Another reason why fake news is so admired, according to Pew Research, is confirmation bias. We are prone to accepting information that confirms our beliefs and ideologies and to dismiss information that goes against it.

How Big is Fake News | Social Media Marketing

According to a new report published by Pew Research Center, approximately 60% of US adults who rely on social media for news said that they had published false information. The situation for those who use conventional media, such as newspapers and TV, was no better.  51% of those respondents said they had shared fake news as well. Not a big difference if you ask me!

Canadians are no different. A new poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for Canada’s Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) found that a whopping 90% of Canadians admitted to falling for fake news online.  Many of those being surveyed in the study listed Facebook as the most common source of misleading report. No surprise there!

How to Stop the Spread of Fake News

There is only one way to stop the spread of fake news and that is to share responsibly. This means, only posting or sharing stories you know are true and from sources you know to be responsible.  You can help shape the media you want, too, by withholding “hate-clicking” on stories you know are designed to make you angry.

I am the first to admit that it is not easy to tell the difference between fake and trustworthy news. However it is not impossible to stop spreading the misinformation. The following tips will help you become a more informed source of information for the rest of your social network:

  • Cross-check each news story before sharing

Before sharing any story, you should always verify its source. This means cross-checking the source with similar articles that have already been published on the internet.

  • Read past the headlines

Headlines are not written to tell the whole story, especially when it comes to controversial topics. Sketchy news outlets might even share reports with misleading headlines to drive clicks, even if they do not accurately describe the facts or completely understand the situation. Make sure to actually read everything you share from beginning to end.

  • Own your mistakes

If you share any news which you later get to know that it is false, delete it or edit it. It is your responsibility to make sure that disinformation is no longer in circulation.

About iRISEmedia | Social Media Marketing Agency | Toronto

At iRISEmedia.com we are specialized in social media management, digital marketing, online reputation management and online branding. Our team helps clients manage and grow their online presence and branding to increase qualified web traffic and online leads. We service clients in Toronto and throughout Canada and the U.S. Give us a call or contact us if you want to discuss any of your social media marketing needs or to conduct a social media audit of your brand at no charge. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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