Leading up to the Spanish-American War in 1898, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst worked on their respective newspapers and fought to see who could sell the most. Critics soon argued that both Pulitzer and Hearst sensationalized stories to sell more papers. This became known as yellow journalism. When the U.S.S. Maine sank in Havana Harbor in 1898, Pulitzer and Hearst sensationalized the events and blamed Spain, inevitably leading to the Spanish-American War. In truth, no one ever found out who sank the U.S.S. Maine.
Are We Told the Truth?
Yellow journalism shows us that the news has not always been just the facts. Sensationalism, propaganda, and spin are all part of the news, back then, and still to this day. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know exactly what the truth is when we’re given information. With the advent of social media, this trend has only gotten worse. Tabloid media and concrete news used to be easy to tell apart, but today the lines are blurred more than ever before. This is making it difficult to trust what we’re being told.
There are lots of reasons for fake news. Stories that are designed to influence decisions, encourage consumers to buy new products, visit web sites, or believe in agendas abound. It’s difficult to visit any social media platform without being inundated with advertisements, many of which look like genuine news articles that are designed to intrigue and potentially deceive. For people who look to social media to stay current on the goings-on of the world, it’s not always easy to know what’s the truth and what’s not.
Types of Fake News
Some fake news comes in the form of advertisements. Oftentimes, rather than simply advertising a product, entrepreneurs or businesses will write up genuine-looking articles tied to current events. As you look closer, you’ll notice that the articles are pushing a product, not information.
Fake news can also come in the form of propaganda, which pushes agendas or certain viewpoints. If these types of stories pique your interest and play to your biases, then you may be more likely to read them. Advertisers know how to target specific individuals based on browser history, so whenever you see the news in an advertisement, there’s a good chance you were deliberately targeted due to your online interests and habits.
Clickbait is a type of fake news that makes you think you’re going to read about one topic but you’re lured into reading about a service or product instead. Oftentimes, clickbait has misleading headlines or pictures to make you think that you would be interested in reading further.
Oftentimes, fake news is just poor journalism. Writers don’t always get their facts straight, and what’s written isn’t always fact-checked. But once these pieces are on social media, they can gain traction and be believed by thousands or millions depending on popularity. It’s difficult to retract fake information once it’s believed by a large number of people.
How Can You Spot Fake News?
Always read thoroughly and think about what you’re reading. Never believe what you read on face value unless you know and trust the source. If in doubt, check other media, especially trusted sources like encyclopedias. This one is difficult but consider your own biases. In other words, are you going to believe something you read just because it agrees with what you believe? And finally, trust your gut but also accept that you can be persuaded. If you are and realize it later, that’s okay. The more aware we are of fake news, the more we can rid it from our lives.
Hamed Wardak currently splits his time between his home in New York City and On the island of Puerto Rico. (Hamed) Wardak is the son of a former defense minister for Afghanistan. Hamed Wardak is an entrepreneur and recently joined the techno music world, creating, producing, and performing his new artistry in underground techno clubs all over the world. Hamed Wardak is known as Valen of Wicked.