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Fake news and its impact on social media

Fake news spreads like wildfire on social media. It has gone as far as impacting Brexit votes in Britain. They have impacted the U.S. presidential election as well. There have been various attempts to curb the spread and weed it out. However, the policy of targeting advertisements affects the most susceptible and vulnerable victims. They fall prey to the fake news and spread the infection. Moreover, they face a hard time differentiating between what’s true and what’s false. They fall prey to it as because they are poorly informed. Inevitably, social media platforms become zones of fake news epidemics.

 

A network theorist, Christoph Aymans once suggested that the social media companies can prevent advertisers from targeting audience. Moreover, they can suspend all targeted ads during crucial times, especially elections. In order to make people broadly aware of fake news, campaigns to recognise falsehoods can be implemented. The only immunity from this weaponised infectious agent might be proper education.

 

David Lazer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University, along with his team examined how fake news. They studied how it travels across Google, Facebook, and Twitter. They provided useful insights to reduce the spread of fake news. Moreover, they also revealed the path that it generally follows. Lazer says, “There needs to be some regular auditing of what the platforms are doing and how much this information is spreading because there is a collective interest in the quality of the information ecosystem that we all live in.”

 

However, the spread of the news becomes much more intensive when it comes to Twitter. Its feature of broadcasting trending topics can be harmful when it’s a fake topic. Lazer discovered that about 9 to 15 per cent of Twitter users are bots. Similarly, there are about 60 million bots on Facebook. In addition, these activities were policed. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have made attempts to counterattack this type of news. However, there is not enough data to establish the fact. Lazer hopes that in the near future these platforms will themselves take actions to curb the spread of fake news.

 

Subarna Basu