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Fake News Essay


Fake news refers to the intentional spread of misinformation or information that is not true through print, broadcasting or internet based social media. In order for any information to qualify as fake news, it has to be intentionally published in order to mislead people so as to gain either financially or politically or in any other ways. Fake news is different from parodies since fake new involves articles or content with catchy headlines meant to increase readership or make people act in a certain way such as to favor one political aspirant over another while parodies are imitations or already existing content while deliberately exaggerating it.

Today, fake news on social media has become a very common phenomenon. Good examples are the multiple hoax blog sites that produce fake news in order to increase their popularity among readers and followers. Often the producers of fake news use very catchy headline such ‘How Donald Trump rigged the elections’ or ‘Five signs to show that the world is ending, number three will shock you’. Fake news also develops unintentionally through misinterpretation and reckless sharing of content. The point of this paper is to show that fake news fake news is caused both intentionally and unintentionally and it can have very adverse consequences but it can also be solved.

Causes of fake news

Fake news on social media is caused in different ways. The most common way in which fake news comes about is through hoaxes. According to an article by BBC News, The rise and rise of fake news, there are hundreds and hundreds of fake news websites that imitate real life newspapers and generally spread plain misinformation, (BBC News, 2016). These fake news websites make use of social media by spreading and sharing their content via social media. A good example is ‘The National Report’ which markets itself as ‘America’s Number 1 Independent News Source’. BBC News reports that according to an insider from ‘The National Report’, one of the fake news website’s biggest stories was an article meant to scare people about a US town having a breakout of a deadly disease; it was the most read and shared article that trended for several days. BBC News explains that for fake news to work, the headline of a fake story and the domain name of the website are structured in such a way they look legitimate so that people read and share. The reason why fake news websites or fake news through social media exists is because there is a lot of money to be made through web host advertising or from politicians by spreading political propaganda. BBC News also reports that according to the insider from ‘The National Report’, single huge stories could make up to $10,000. This explains how fake news is produced and sustained through social media.

Another way in which fake news is caused is through genuine mistakes of misinterpretation of facts in different contexts through social media. According to article by Maheshwari published by The New York Times in 2016, a case example of how fake news is produces through unintentionally or through misinterpretation of facts is that of Eric Tucker. Eric Tucker, a founder of a marketing company in Austin saw buses in his home area ferrying people to a conference which he did not know was happening and took pictures of the buses and posted them on Twitter alleging them to be anti-Trump protesters. What happened was that his tweet was picked by people and re-tweeted and shared over and over. Several media houses and blogs also obtained the photos from the tweet and published them as news of anti-Trump protesters. Later on when evidence came up to show that the buses were not of ant-Trump protesters, the damage had already been done and the fake news had been shared tens of thousands of times. Eric Tucker’s case is an example of how misinterpretation of facts no matter how genuinely can result in fake news. Many other cases of a similar kind such as through screenshots, spelling errors and other mistakes happen every day on social media.

Effects of fake news

One of the major effects of fake news is that it leads to the spread of false information which might make people to act wrongly or based on misinformation. A good example of this is the recent case of Edgar Maddison. The 28 year old walked into a pizzeria in Washington DC with an assault rifle and started firing shots before surrendering to the police. When he was question, he said that he had come to investigate a pre-election conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton led a child-trafficking ring in the pizzeria, Akpan, (2016). This is just a single example of how fake news makes people make decisions or act based on false information.

According to Chahal, (2017) in his article The fake news effect: What does it mean for advertisers, published by Marketing Week, fake news has led to a continuous decrease in consumer confidence in the mainstream media. According to the article, because of widespread false information and misreporting, trust of mainstream media has shown a marked decrease. In the past one year, at least 47% of consumers are suspicious that they have read fake news on social media.

Solution for fake news

There are different ways in which the problem of fake news can be solved. One of the ways in which the problem can be solved id through creating awareness among people about fake news. When people are aware about fake news and are always alert about news and sources that are not legitimate, they will not share false information. In addition, most people may not be able to tell the difference between sources that are legitimate such as real life newspapers and media houses on social media. Creating awareness among people about fake news can also help them to learn the sources on news on social media that can be trusted and are verifiable from those that are hoaxes.

Another way to solve the problem of fake news is by encouraging a culture of credibility on social media. Encouraging credibility on social media can work since it has worked previously. Take for example on Instagram, when a user shares an image or content posted by another user, it comes with the Instagram handle of the first user inscribed on the image and that way an image shared can be traced to the person who uploaded it previously. On Twitter, people and organization who value their credibility are able to verify their account and thus can be trusted. Obtaining news from sources that are not verified could have the risk of fake news.

However, the most efficient way to deal with fake news is constantly monitoring, reporting and removing content that is fake news on social media. Currently, this works on various social media platforms such as Facebook in which content that is not true, or is explicit and threatening is reported or flagged and removed. According to an article by Wendling, (2017) published by BBC News, one of the ways in which Facebook is solving the problem of fake news is by enlisting in the International Fact Checking Network, (IFCN). When content on Facebook is reported or flagged on Facebook, it is verified by third parties signed up with IFCN. People who post false information risk being sued and facing hefty consequences. This looks like by far the most promising way of dealing with fake news.


An objection to the solutions to the problem of fake news is that constantly monitoring, reporting and removing fake news on social media cannot work. There are those who believe that at any given time, whether fake news is constantly monitored and removed from social media it will always continue to exist. An idea is that people find new ways to develop hoaxes and spread false information.

There are also other who believe that creating awareness to each and every person using social media on the dangers of fake news can be the best way to deal with the problem.


As at now, constantly monitoring and removing fake news on social media and removing it is the best way to deal with the problem. Most likely, the war against fake news on social media will not end immediately, but by constantly improving how we react to and deal with social media, there is hope for solving the problem.

Moreover, to those who believe that creating awareness to people about fake news is the way out, it won’t work. Ideally, most of the people who use social media know that there is a risk of having fake news. Even the producers of fake news know the dangers associated with fake news but still continue to produce fake news.


Fake news or misinformation on social media is spread through hoaxes or people who look out to benefit in various ways such as making money. Unintentional mistakes such as wrong misinterpretation of facts can also lead to fake news. Fake news can lead people to make decisions based on false information as the case of Edgar Maddison. It also undermines the public’s trust on legitimate sources of news. However, fake news on social media can be dealt with by constantly monitoring, reporting and removing content that is fake news on social media. One more thing that can be done is further research on how to better deal with the problem of fake news on social media.


Akpan, N., (2016) The very real consequences of fake news stories and why your brain can’t ignore them. PBS NewsHour. Retrieved Thursday April 13, 2017 from’t-ignore-them

BBC News, (2016). The rise and rise of fake news. BBC News. Retrieved Thursday April 13, 2017 from

Chandal, M., (2017). The fake news effect: What does it mean for advertisers. Marketing Week. Retrieved Thursday April 13, 2017 from

Wendling, M., (2017). Solutions that can stop fake news from spreading. BBC News. Retrieved Thursday April 13, 2017 from


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