Yellow journalism was a term coined back in the mid-1890’s by New York City newspapers. It was a form of journalism based upon sensationalism, offensive exaggeration and minimal to no legitimate researched news. Fast forward to 2017. Thanks to social media we now call it “Fake News!”
Initially the internet facilitated the sharing of knowledge. Web 2.0, specifically social media platforms added the element of engagement. Unfortunately, a proliferation of fake news sites began to surface in recent years deliberately publishing disinformation, in some cases pure propaganda to influence readers for political and financial reasons. Fake news has become a major issue with a majority of U.S. adults, 62% getting their news via social media (Pew Research Center in a survey conducted 1/12/16 – 2/8/16).
Did fake news have an influence on our 2016 election? Tim Cook leader of Apple said: “The spread of fake news online is one of one of today’s chief problems.” Back in December Facebook began flagging fake news stories with the help of users and outside independent fact checkers. In Europe, they have teamed up with Google and other news organizations to launch an initiative to address the issue, specifically in France with its election just around the corner (April/May).
At the end of December, CNBC.com detailed the top fake news stories of 2016. Included in their fact-checked article was data accumulated by internet media company BuzzFeed. The top fake news stories generated approximately two million Facebook engagements in the three months leading up to the election in comparison to the top performing Facebook article for the New York Times attaining a little over 370,000 engagements.
Fake News, Yellow Journalism 2.0!
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Winston Churchill (pre-Web 2.0)
What will come of all this? How will we trust sources?