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News, Technology

Fake News and False Rumours: How the Nation’s Newsfeed is Getting Murkier Everyday

Kenton Reynolds

Kenton Reynolds, Writer
@uxconnections

The recent coronavirus crisis has left the world desperate for news. But when the industry finds it hard to keep up, less authentic outlets appear

With the recent events of the COVID-19 virus, thirst for news has become unquenchable. Most of the nation are tuning in to gulp down every word that PM Boris Johnson tells us in the evenings. Market forces apply to almost everything in society, so as this rise of demand for news comes, it is met with an overflow of supply. However, this is not the usual informative, clean news that we may desire. Our excessive wish for the latest article has led to the market flooding with muddy, tainted and decidedly useless news. Flowing into the stream of real news is a small brook of false stories and invented rumours.

The worrying part is not that the news stream is being pervaded by these dangerous tales, but rather that we are choosing to do this to ourselves. These stories do not originate from big businesses; the 16 billionaires that own the news aren’t creating this threat. It comes from us. Everyday people are disseminating gossip and hearsay whether it be an overheard conversation, a tale from a friend-of-a-friend or simply just self-invented stories. Small chunks of information can spiral out of control and leave people believing whatever they have read, regardless of the source.

However, people fabricating reports would not be a problem if this simply spread through word of mouth. This occurrence becomes truly toxic when paired with a catalyst: social media. Social media platforms let the stories divide and multiply as they spread through the nation’s newsfeed like a virus through a host: causing damage whilst infecting neighbouring cells at exponential rates. Such spread has caused Facebook to employ a new system that blocks false news with an economic incentive. It doesn’t stop it all though, as you’ll note the next time you tap the little blue icon on your home screen. No, false news is so widespread and covers so many subjects that it is almost impossible to censor.

Even if it were censored and the murky waters of false news were held back, the news supply is still tainted. Media is controlled by a small number of people who could change what is being thrown our way any time they choose. This has occurred before, with Rupert Murdoch acting as editor-in-chief at the Sun, it makes you wonder whether what we see is the news or just the thoughts of a business owner. Those in control of a news outlet have the ability to change the news to suit their own opinions and beliefs if they choose to use such power.

Currently it is almost impossible to access unbiased, factual news. All reading has to be taken with a pinch of salt as you consider the writer’s opinions, the financial benefits and all sorts of other reasons to change the way an article is written. Don’t worry however, this one is completely unbiased. 

Though I would say that.

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