By: Summa Aholo

Can you tell real news stories from fake news stories?

Most people can’t, according to a study conducted by Sam Wineburg, over 80 percent of high school students could not determine the difference. They are the ones in school, so what chances do the rest of us who have long since graduated school have?

Pew Research Center says 62 percent of people get some of their news from social media, while 42 percent from Facebook. Is it Facebook’s responsibility to keep fake news off of people’s newsfeed? Should we as a society place the blame solely on the shoulders of the media sites and take none of the blame, do none of our own research? I think that’s a little short cited. Are we monkeys that need to be kept and fed whatever propaganda the media decides it wants to give us?

Sites such as Facebook as well as Google use a an algorithm in order to customize what appears on people’s feed, so each individual  person decides what appears on their feed based on their past searches and clicked links.

Fake news is easily made and it is a very profitable business, NPR interviewed Jestin Coler, a prominent fake news creator who created the fake news site DenverGaurdian.com. The website posted a fake news story stating that an investigator looking into the Clinton emails killed himself. Coler is the owner of Disinfomedia Inc. which has a number of fake media sites.

Coler owns a multitude of different sites and makes money from ad spaced used on each site, he makes anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 per ad.  Like Coler, many who get into the arena of creating fake news does so for the easy money they can make.

The growing distrust of mainstream news stations drive people to alternate news sources, social media being one of them. Also many people just want some “official” article to confirm their own beliefs, and prejudices.  Facebook is one of the most popular sites to receive information, not only is it an alternative to mainstream news it is also so prevalent its easy accessibility is one of the reasons so many people are drawn to it.

Fake news is not a new thing it’s been around since the very first presidential election. In order to counteract the prevalence of fake news stories being published in mass quantities, people need to be educated in deciphering between what is fake and what is real.

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism