Fake news has been so prominent in recent events that will go down in history here in the UK. Namely, Brexit and the Scottish Independence Referendum.
To give a brief example of the effect fake news had on these events, and the way said news helped lead to the inevitable outcome:
Brexit: Well, I think the ridiculousness of this one is known pretty much across the globe now. Those voting for Brexit (many who have now changed their minds) assumed they were going to save the National Health Service by doing so. How? Because the pro-Brexit Government made a big point that the EU costs the UK £350 million per week and that this money could go towards the NHS. I mean they literally plastered this on the side of a London bus. Was this true? Not one bit. Did pro-Brexiteers believe it? Every single piece of it.
Scottish Independence Referendum: "Scare-mongering" is now a phrase that will forever be linked to the run up to this vote. Those against Scottish Independence (mostly right-wing politics), told made-up stories that aimed to play on the emotions of the older generation. And it worked. If you look at the breakdown of that vote, younger voters voted a majority 'yes' and vice versa. The 'No' campaign threatened against things like pensions and high levels of immigration. It was literally a case of "everything bad that happens here is a fault of immigrants".
I think we are living in a world of post-truth politics, where statements are made to play on the emotions of those listening without any connect to real-world policy or fact. We consume everything we read and believe every word we hear without fact-checking (I'm generalising, but based on recent political events in both the UK and USA, it's clearly a problem). Maybe its a little to do with unconscious bias too? If the political party you support says something, you believe it without checking, so-to speak because it 'proves' your argument and justifies your support. Fake news has become ubiquitous as a signal for political supporters to ignore legitimate reporting and hard questions.
It begs the question: is our unconscious bias more damaging than the fake news itself?
Or is it all part of the same umbrella? Bias, propaganda, and misleading information = fake news?
I think the proof is in the pudding, fake news is real and we really ought to start finding new ways to call it out. I'm intrigued to see how Facebook's proposed way of identifying it will lead the way for others to do the same.
Anyway, here's the bus that changed the UK political landscape forever.