Fake news cuts down on political discourse

Whether fake news played a role in the outcome of the recent presidential election or not, it is harmful nonetheless. Fake news is regarded as content produced by websites whose prime purpose is to troll social media platforms and search engines for profit.

Since fake news titles are mixed in search engine results with real, actual news, at the time of the election it seems highly likely that fake news sites contributed highly toward swaying supporters for both candidates.

A fictitious story posted on The Denver Guardian, a fictional news outlet, read, “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide.” This story was reported to have received more than 500,000 shares on Facebook.

“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement” was also inaccurate and false. WTOE 5 News, a fake news website that reeled in more than 100,000 shares on social media, incorrectly and misleadingly portrayed the news as truth.

A copycat version of that same story got published on Ending the Fed, a site fixated on exposing the fraud of the Federal Reserve System. That post received more than 900,000 shares on Facebook.

Websites distributing fake news became especially disastrous during this election season. According to The Washington Post, a fake news share related to the Trump campaign could earn a fortunate hoaxer around $10,000 in revenue. This money can then be invested into more advertising services so that the campaign can continue to make a profit by getting its fake news stories heard.

Paul Horner, notorious fake news writer known for convincing the internet twice that he was the British graffiti artist Banksy, feels that Trump was elected because of him, he said to The Washington Post.

The Trump campaign was also sharing these fake news stories as if they were factual. This proved to be extremely troublesome since it created a greater incentive for fake news writers like Horner to keep targeting the campaign’s audience.

In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. Events like this are disheartening predicaments that inspire negative and baseless political discourse.

These fake news stories are anything but a joke since they play a major role in affecting important decisions. Facebook and Google have come under fire for allowing fake news to dominate their respective site.

When the problem was first addressed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he said that Facebook was a technological innovation, not a media company. He did not want Facebook to be responsible for media circulation. Zuckerberg’s stance on the issue later changed and he decided to censor fake news by limiting its advertising revenue. Google has similarly decided to create a new policy that extends a ban on misrepresentative content.