What is fake news: the tip of the disinformation iceberg

Around 80% of the Spanish population claims to have received fake news about the pandemic. The percentage is remarkably high, but it must be taken into account that in order to affirm that false information has been received, it is necessary to have previously recognized it as false. This means that, possibly, almost the entire population has received some hoax related to Covid-19. However, fake news is only the most visible part of the misinformation , an iceberg that is adrift. We will tell you about it in this post.
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Fake news and disinformation, the words of the year
In 2017, ” fake news ” was chosen term of the year by the Collins dictionary.

At the beginning of this century, the term began to be used with some frequency because it was increasingly evident that we were facing a serious problem in the handling of information .

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A problem that had to do with both the quantity and the quality of the information . It was not only that the Internet had multiplied the production and circulation of information to the unimaginable. It was also that the traditional Ireland Business Phone List media were in crisis and confidence in them was plummeting.

But it was during the 2016 US presidential election campaign that the use of this expression became popular when Donal Trump used the expression as an actor using a catchphrase . He repeated it incessantly to accuse each media outlet that published information that was against him of falsehood. He repeated it in interviews, at rallies and, of course, on Twitter.

Between 2016 and 2017, the use of the term fake news increased 365%.

Completing the definition of fake news
The definition that the Collins dictionary collected: false information, sometimes sensationalist, disseminated as if it were journalistic information (” false , often sensational , information disseminated under the guise of news reporting “). Since then, new elements have been pointed out to complete this definition.

Intentionality: fake news is the means to an end
The Spanish equivalent of fake news is “hoax”. The RAE defines it as “false news spread for any purpose”. Thus, a key characteristic of fake news is added : intentionality. It is not simply false information that goes through life disguised as reliable reports. It is information manufactured and disseminated with the intention of achieving a specific purpose.

That end can be diverse. You can just pretend to make money by earning clicks from false but very flashy headlines. The objective may be to discredit a rival political party in order to antagonize it with its sympathizers.

The news fake may also be part of geopolitical strategies as part of a war of information from all participating countries with the means to do so.
Online: Vertical vs. horizontal
First Draft is a private initiative dedicated to the analysis of disinformation. They point out another element of fake news : they are created and disseminated in the online context.

Until the arrival of the internet and social networks , the information conformed to a broadcasting model . The media prepared and disseminated the information. The audience we limited ourselves to consuming it and commenting on it during coffee or waiting for the departure of the girl at the door of the school.

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But the 2.0, and later, have changed this model completely. Now, practically anyone can make their own fake news and, above all, we can participate in the circulation of the content.

If the antenna from which the televisions or radios broadcast is raised vertically, Wi-Fi allows us to share the same horizontal plane.

Obvious: fake news is not until it is
Online does not only imply horizontality. It also means that fake news needs to be all that digital communication implies . In other words, a hoax, in order to be defined as such, needs to accumulate visits, likes and be shared. It also requires an opposite reaction. It is not enough for the content to circulate between accounts that consider it to be true. It must arouse mistrust, criticism and controversy.

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The false content will definitely end up becoming fake news when it is verified and marked as such. A hoax will be when someone, with evidence, labels it. The emperor is dressed until the boy points his finger at him and shouts to the crowd that he is naked.

The gigantic iceberg of disinformation
The elements that in the previous paragraphs have been added to the initial definition of fake news allow us to begin to glimpse the complexity of the problem we face.

The DE Phone Number of circumstances that come into play branch from geopolitics to psychology, passing through the algorithms that govern the functioning of social networks or the digital divide.

Knowledge biases lead us to ignore all information that questions our beliefs and to believe at face value everything that gives us reason. Algorithms privilege negative content because controversy creates more engagement and they lock us in a bubble where consumers always consume the same type of content. The digital divide leaves a good part of the citizenry out of the places where the public conversation now takes place.

Accepting this complexity leads us to broaden the focus. And it is from this overall vision that we can begin to understand the dynamics of disinformation that threaten us.

We are not the Titanic
In the First Study on the Impact of Fake News in Spain, 30% of the people interviewed stated that the false information had caused them discussions with family or friends. It is not the worst thing that could happen to us, but coexistence problems should not be underestimated either.

According to a Eurobarometer carried out before the pandemic, 83% of the EU population identified disinformation as a “danger to democracy”.

The pandemic has also been a time when all the elements of misinformation have been exacerbated. Also its effects. The circulation of false information and the emboldening of conspiracy theories have put, and put, the collective health at risk.

But among so many figures there are also data for hope. According to a study carried out by the Digilab group, in April 2020, entitled “The consumption of information during confinement by the coronavirus” 73.5% of the people surveyed said they check the information that they found doubtful.

And if the internet and social networks are part of the problem, they can also be part of the solution. The spirit with which the network was born was to share knowledge and create it together. There are many initiatives that recover community work to fight misinformation. The community has always been a value on the internet and now it is more necessary than ever.

Every time we know the problem better and more and more solutions are available to us.

The work of community manager in the face of misinformation
Information, online context, community … all of these are key elements of the Community manager’s work . Among the many tasks that make up this work, there are: curate and generate content, stimulate and moderate the conversation in our profiles, know the operation of the networks we manage, interact with other accounts … In most of these tasks we can make decisions that cloud the landscape of misinformation or that, on the contrary, help to clarify the horizon.

By curating content from varied sources and opinions, we puncture the bubble that algorithms lock us in and share a broad and diverse vision with our community . If we ignore content that encourages hate, even to show our outrage against it, we stop serving as a speaker. If we contrast the data we handle, we prepare rigorous and reliable content.
The first step, as in so many other things, is to become aware of the problem. In this sense, the overview that this article defends can be very convenient. Because, in addition, the overall vision also implies assuming that it is a social problem and, therefore, each one must commit from their responsibility.

If you work as a Community Manager, you have a privileged profession to fight against misinformation. Every time we know the problem better and more and more solutions are available to us. We will dodge the iceberg.
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