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Internet Safety – Fake News, Clickbait and Propaganda (Part 1)

 

For many of us, the internet is now one of main news sources in our daily lives.

 

Similar to the old saying that “just because it’s in print, doesn’t mean it’s true”, the same goes for anything you read online. In fact, it’s even easier now than ever for an individual or an organisation to create or spread fraudulent, misleading, or exaggerated news.

Regardless of age, race, gender, or education level, anyone can fall prey to these kinds of articles. They can spread on social media, on messenger apps, or even within an organisation or among colleagues.

 


 

How Real is the Threat of Fake News?

As we come to rely on the internet for more and more of our daily lives, it’s important to be able to separate fact from fiction – and also to weed out the exaggerations in news articles.

‘Fake news’ is thus named primarily because the stories in these articles are either exaggerated to such a degree that the credibility of the story and its details comes into question, or are entirely fabricated. While this term has been used by various politicians and organisations to discredit legitimate news sources, it’s still a valid term in many cases.

Fake news can be created and spread on any subject, from celebrities and media to more serious topics such as war and politics. In fact, the critical thinking skills required to separate fake news from real news are actually so important now that they’re being taught in UK schools as part of the national curriculum.

 

Who Benefits?

When you share a fraudulent news article, the website stands to gain traffic, which often translates directly into ad revenue, but they also gain some credibility from being shared. Since many of these websites have questionable origins, we have absolutely no idea where our data and the ad revenue generated from these pages is actually going. Facebook and Twitter have clamped down somewhat on the sharing of fake news articles, but it is still very much an issue.

Several worldwide movements are known to thrive on the friction and hostility that some fake news creates. People can be divided and turned against one another by these fraudulent or misleading news stories – which can, in some countries, contribute to unrest and potentially endanger lives.

 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue on this theme and go into a bit more depth, looking into two other closely related topics – clickbait and propaganda – and also into how you can spot, report and control the spread of fake news articles.

 

Need help or advice to keep your team safe and secure, or have questions about IT security? We can help! Give us a call on 0121 312 1500 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk
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