Fake news thrives on controversy, Source: on Freepik

Deconstructing disinformation: We need awareness of the nature of truth

Deconstructing disinformation: We need awareness of the nature of truth

Fake news is part of modern society, but that doesn’t mean we should stand by idly

We live in a society saturated with information, where we are instantly informed about different events. Not only through newspapers, as it used to be, but now also through social media and websites.

In this scenario of hyper-connectivity and hyper-information, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the truth or accuracy of information. American media scholar Henry Jenkins states that our society is divided by a fine line between consumers and publishers. Social media and new technologies allow us to publish content at the same pace that we can consume it.

The combination of the vast amount of information, a growing number of publishers, and easy access to the Internet, however, also means that online content is not entirely truthful.

And since any individual can be a news or info disseminator, it becomes a daunting task for all content circulating on the internet to be verified – it is thus safe to assume that some part of it will be false information.

And many individuals who consume it do not check its veracity or the credibility of the channels and sources that spread it. What becomes important is whether the consumer likes the info and feels an emotional attachment to it. It’s this emotional response that also fuels the spread of disinformation. Something that can be described as a

Snowball effect

Fake news gets multiplied, and a large part of the population can be involved, deceived - and even manipulated into action – and all of this by the power of words or images.

Manipulated images, politicians spreading disinfo, and content produced without reliable sources are part of our daily routine. This has a significant impact on our society; hate speech grows, political polarisation intensifies, and distrust in the media increases.

An oft-overlooked consequence of the proliferation of false information is that it reduces the capability and levels for critical thinking – one of the functional pillars of literacy in our contemporary world. The consumers of disinformation allow themselves to be swayed by uncertainties that gradually become truths – kind of like the infamous quote by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels that a lie repeated enough times will ring true eventually.

The act of verifying what one consumes on the internet is done by a few people. A large part of our society is alienated, and this can become worrisome.

As citizens and future media professionals, we young people have a duty to verify the information we obtain through the internet and that which is presented to us, even by family and friends.

We have a responsibility to disseminate only what is true and to combat fake news by teaching others to be vigilant about warning signs. All of this must be done in favour of fostering a society that is informed by true facts from credible sources. As future communicators, it is part of our profession and the ethics that govern us to disseminate real, true, and verified content before it is published. As citizens, even more so.



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