Prior to the popularity of social media, there were limits to the spread of fake news. Although, the rise of social media encouraged digital journalism, resulting in the dissemination of information faster and easier, it also did open grounds for easy manipulation of the media space.
In the past, TV and Radio stations, as well as newspapers houses, always made sure not to peddle rumours. Stories that did not make it to any of these platforms were largely debunked by the public. Fake news only made their way around when discussed by individuals, but they never lasted for long.
The news about fulani herdsmen killing along Lagos-Ibadan expressway, is it true? Seeing it everywhere.
— bola (@adebawealth) February 7, 2018
However, with the rise in social media and instant messaging platforms, people now play on the liberty of the open media space to peddle fake news. Unfortunately, for a long time, little or nothing has been done to stop this.
The Effects of Misinformation
Now, this phenomenon has given rise to panic and fear amongst individuals. As a matter of fact, fake news tend to go viral easily and people believe the fake stories. A notable example was the news of herdsmen killing people along Lagos-Ibadan expressway last month.
@PACS2_INTMEDIA Due to the increasing lack of trust in news sources online, what are ways journalists can prove they are a reliable source?
— Dana Kadifa (@dana_kadifa) February 9, 2017
The rise of these untrue stories on the Internet has posed a threat to media itself. Several people now doubt the credibility of certain news, as they are often improbable statements made by misinformed individuals who end up causing confusion amongst the public.
What is Being Done?
Recently, there has been clampdown on fake news from some prominent social media platforms. An example is the introduction of live streaming by Twitter which will will rely on a slew of partnerships with regional news station. This partnership allows the platform curate stories and select what footage will be live streamed.
Additionally, YouTube rolled out a new feature last week which involves the display of Wikipedia statements alongside videos to give the viewer more information on their content.
Would that all social media would take up this noble battle…. Google News Initiative announced to fight fake news and support journalism https://t.co/eMGyjfvmFZ
— David Stones (@DavidDmstones) March 20, 2018
Google is not also left out in this fight against fake news. The world leading search engine has just launched a new initiative to battle misinformation by ensuring that credible news gets greater visibility online.
Although the initiatives being rolled out are commendable, a lot still has to be done in combating fake news. However, we can always hope that more platforms will tow this line. Hopefully, soon, the spread of fake news would be brought to barest minimum.
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