I am fascinated by gems and minerals. Of course, many women love diamonds and precious gems, but when your wallet says soda pop prices with champagne tastes and caviar dreams, well then, you go for the trendy knockoffs. It may not be as valuable, but that all depends on the person buying it and what they intend to use it for. So I had to ask myself a gnawing question about the growing popularity of fake news and whether it is a more acceptable, fashionable, trend that has penetrated our moral values and the core ethics of journalism.
When email communications were more popular than texting and social media, I believe the epidemic of fake news began to spread more rapidly than a common cold back then. I would be irked by friends who sent an email to everyone in their address book about a “rumor” that would sound authentic, without checking whether or not it was true.
First, I hated the fact that the senders didn’t fact check these rumors which turned out to be a lie, that has now been sent to at least 50-75 people in their personal address book, AND they didn’t even bother to blind copy our names! Ugh! That’s when I used to turn to Snopes.com to see the latest rumors that spread more rampantly than any nosy neighbor sitting in their window spreading gossip. I kinda miss that nosy neighbor!
Fake news, a buzz keyword that conveniently and loosely flows from the lips of so many these days are sites and outlets that deliberately spin and publish hoaxes and propaganda asserting that the news is real, but is misleading because it isn’t. Or in some cases, you will find remnants of the “truth” embellished with sparkling fake jewels. In other words, in my dictionary, it’s a “lie.” Amazingly, so many people, and not just the illiterate or disenfranchised are believing these falsified facts, but also many highly educated, professional and rather intelligent individuals are duped by such news.
What has happened to honest fact-checking, credible, decent, authentic and good investigative journalism like it used to be you might ask? It still exists, but sensationalized lies seem to be the attention getters…you know the things that start arguments, fights, wars and gets thousands of followers? Now, just in a matter of hitting the send or enter key, millions of people all at once will receive quick access to lies perpetrated by the implementation of bots that can create a catastrophe scarier than any “A Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel I’ve seen.
Fake news or controversial bogus stories is a very real, dangerous threat to every fabric of our being, security of our country and in the way we tell the truth. When I think about the “Pizzagate” conspiracy and how damaging it was to the character of hard working citizens, innocent people and how horribly wrong things could have turned out, I cringe and am infuriated. I think anyone reporting “anything” or anyone internalizing and wanting to “share” controversial hearsay, has a responsibility to fact-check first. With such intent to falsify and spread scathing rumors, or to purposefully carry out character assassinations just for the hell of it, to me that in itself, is nothing more than sheer terrorism. That’s just my opinion.