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Critically about fakes: the dangers and risks of news in the media

While participating in the project “Critical Thinking of Copper”, I had many questions about the sources of information, the reasons, risks and dangers of fake news. Tallinn University master’s student Aleksey Ivanov answered the interview questions.

What is the most common food consumed by humanity?

In the 21st century, this is the most diverse information. But fakes are increasingly common, they are difficult to distinguish from the truth and to suffer from fake information in the mass media. The world is flooded with fake news, disinformation, misinformation, Internet ducks, cunning audiences, consumer society, globalization of the planet, fiction, fake, website, social networks, blog , blogger, forum, photo and video hosting, non-standard. The demand for information has always been high. Especially in the current conditions, its role and importance are growing more than ever.

And yet, what are fakes?

Modern media are increasingly becoming a source of unverified or rumored information. News that contains lies, fiction and fake information is called fake news in journalism. Fake is an analogue of the English word fake, in modern language it can be used in two meanings: trick – cunning, cunning, deceit, fictional, fake, and also swindle – a joke, prank, fun. In various sources, there are more than twenty definitions of the word fake. Among them are such as fake, false, fake, fake, deceiver, invented, artificial, biased, confusing, slander, scam, trick, gossip, anxiety, intrigue, confusion, distraction, etc. In a broad sense, a fake is any false information mixed with gossip, fiction, propaganda and secrets designed to make any phenomenon believable. This phenomenon is much more dangerous than false, already existing information. Fake comes from the desire to spread false information, but its novelty is that it is designed to really harm. The possibilities of information give “fake” endless possibilities. The purpose of spreading false, fictional news is to deliberately harm someone or something, with the help of untrue and fake information to generate doubt and distrust among the audience, consumers of information

What do you think the information affects

The demand for information affects not only the means of its dissemination, types, but also its main task, essence. The development of information technologies, in particular, the Internet, firstly, has accelerated the process of preparing and disseminating information, and secondly, it has expanded the possibilities of its perception to an unimaginable scale. In this situation, the truthfulness or falsity of the disseminated information faded into the background. As a result, the essence of information becomes abstract, it begins to be used for various purposes and interests. False, false and invented information has a negative impact on the consciousness of the audience and leads to a violation of relations between people, accepted norms and rules in society, values ​​and traditions.

Please provide examples

For example, today inaccurate information is found not only in social networks, but also in the news of serious media, especially information sites. This led to the fact that the consumer of the content stopped analyzing the information and took it blindly, believed in it. In recent years, the media has evolved from a channel for disseminating information to a medium for exchanging opinions. The activities of bloggers are rapidly gaining popularity in social networks, gradually drawing public attention from traditional media and electronic information resources to themselves. Examples are simple: vaccinations, travel adventures, family secrets, prices and promotions …

How to overcome the risks?

Very often in life there is deception in order not to run into trouble on the Internet in general – there are also means. It makes sense to check the correctness of the links on which you are invited to go – some of them are very similar to the addresses of popular sites. You should not enter confidential data in the fields of the proposed form on unfamiliar sites and even in online stores – passport, bank card details, and so on. Fake on the Internet is dangerous. Most often, it leads to the infection of the user’s computer and even loss of money if passwords are stolen. Therefore, be careful when using the Internet and entering data. For lack of information, people tend to believe any news. That is why especially many fakes appear during epidemics, military conflicts, immediately after terrorist attacks or emergencies. DW has prepared instructions on how to recognize fake information on the Internet.

Tell who and why are fakes profitable? Why create and distribute fakes?

Some people make money on it, because clicks also lead to ad clicks. Often, with the help of fake news, they try to impose a point of view, make people think, and better act in a certain way. Disinformation is a favorite propaganda tool. Unsurprisingly, provocative social media posts spread very quickly. Flashy headlines and sensational newsfeed photos grab attention, and many people share such news without even clicking on the link. That is why, first of all, you need to make sure that the title matches the text of the article. Often, no sensations are hidden behind intriguing names taken out of context. A negligent or deliberately misplaced title photo can also be misleading. Perhaps the events in the picture took place in a different place or much earlier than those described in the article. You can understand this by finding the original photo (usually it is of better quality than its copies): when and where was it first published?

Why and for whom are fake sites created to distribute fake news.

It is important to check who exactly posted this news. If this is not a large publication, but a personal blog or a recently created portal with several questionable materials, you should not trust it. Be sure to check the name of the media – copies of famous pages are often created to promote rumors. They can differ from the originals by a couple of letters in the address bar or by the domain – such details are easy to miss.

How to find sources of information in fake news

Of course, news is more credible if it was published by several major media outlets at once. But even in well-known publications, inaccurate information or incorrect interpretation of events sometimes appears. Check who the authors of the post are citing. Good journalistic material should contain at least two sources – news agencies, specific people. Do you mention organizations, politicians, public figures in the news? This means that it is worth going to their sites or profiles in social networks – often official decisions or comments on some topics are published there as well. It is suspicious if all sources of information are anonymous, are not indicated at all or are hidden under phrases like “it became known”. If the link leads to a site in a foreign language, the text can be run through any online translator. Of course, the translation will not be accurate, but the general meaning will become clear. But the most important thing is to critically evaluate information and not trust the news just because other users have liked and reposted it on social networks.

Author: Anton Pelitsin, student volunteer