Misinformation, hoaxes, fib, propaganda, and pseudo-events have long been in existence. Whether we talk of radio, television, newspaper, internet, social media, or word of mouth, nothing can be trusted in all aspects. The fake news worm hasn’t left any media unaffected from its malaise effects. It may be deliberate misinformation; a “clickbait” or a satire. Multitudes of hoax stories related to coronavirus are promulgating around, which bolsters this fact very well. Hence, it becomes essential to understand various facets of fake news.
Separating fact from misinformation is crucial in the current social, political, and economic scenario. Various researches have been done to establish ways to verify the authenticity of the news and understand the vicious cycle created by it. A research conference at the Northeastern University was fully dedicated to understanding and combatting the spread of fake news with the help of digital humanities and computational social science. It included an analysis of pathways and frequency of fake news using the data of 2016 US elections which revealed that people who consumed fake news were likely to consume a lot of it which forms a vicious trap. It covered aspects ranging from local mobile paradox, mapping cultural and biological racism on Twitter to the effect of fake news on conspiracy propagation. It reveals how data analytics can be a useful tool in solving social issues.
Fake news can be used as a tool to obscure activities similar to what was done in the Facebook- Cambridge Analytica data scandal which targeted the lives of more than 50 million people just for political ads. This proliferation of misinformation should be curbed before it leads to mass distrust. The onus of this not only lies on the state, researchers or media, rather it’s the responsibility of every being. Tracing the source, cross-verification across different channels, checking credibility before sharing and analysing only after reading the full article are some of the common practices which can be adopted by everyone and this exponential increase in fake news can be checked.