The Truth About The Fake
Fake boobs. Faux nose. False eyelashes. Embroidered eyebrows. Triple class A imitation designer bags. Fake processed fast food. Plastic people who smile in your face but stab you in the back. Fabricated alternative facts. It seems like there is no escaping fake nowadays. It has managed to embed itself in every aspect of human existence. Fake is just everywhere!
There’s no harm in enhancing body parts to help boost your self-confidence. Fake fast food that’s cheap and unhealthy affects only those who buy and eat them. Plastic people must be avoided for peace of mind. Selling counterfeit handbags are illegal and purchasing them, well, that’s just tacky. As for fake news, it now falls into a category that’s punishable by law.
Fake news is the scariest amongst all the fakey-mac-fakertons because they skew truth and information! Believing alternative facts is akin to living an alternative reality. And if you don’t live in the real world, that can only mean you are going cuckoo. So c’mon, get real! Combat fake news with critical consumption by flexing those brain muscles. After all, knowledge is power, and it is the most important power of all. Fake it or leave it! Recently, there was a brouhaha over a Manila Times columnist who wrote an opinion piece quoting US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, that President Duterte needs space to run the Philippines. The original quote was first seen on a fake news-site, a wannabe-Al Jazeera. The opinion piece based on erroneous material went viral, to the point that it was shared by many prominent pro-admin officials.
To further rain on their parade, the US embassy released a statement vehemently denying everything. They were firm in pointing out it was fake. Bitch slap, take that. Ouch!
And this is where you and I should cry foul! Imagine, many of our so-called public servants funded by our taxes actively sharing fake news. With their position and power, they have to be more careful, critical, and discerning of information that they share with the masses. If an official can be duped to believe and help spread fakery, then leave the information dissemination to the professionals (who fact-check)!
Fake news is not actually a new concept. All media have limited time and space (ie. number of minutes, word count, column inches). Add to that, the elusive attention span of the audience compels each media outfit to outdo each other to ensure that they are the ones that get patronized. Thus, the concept of yellow journalism or sensationalism was born.
As early as the mid-1890s, there was circulation war between two newspapers owned by different companies: Joseph Pulitzer’s (Pulitzer Prize) New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s (Hearst Publishing: Cosmo magazine, etc) New York Journal. They both ascribed to sensationalizing news to increase paper sales.
Sensationalism uses one or a combo of these tricks: bold exaggerated headlines, aggressive news gathering, stretching information, image manipulation, and dramatic crime or humaninterest stories to appeal to the masses. Even television news programs do this, giving more importance to lurid stories about sordid crimes and accidents that viewers seem to enjoy watching.
The advent of technology has made information even easier to access, at times, even free. In our media saturated environment, it is now more important than ever to filter information that we receive and create. It’s essential to analyze and evaluate media messages that we consume and share.
Don’t be a mere conspicuous consumer of media to fight misinformation and miscommunication. For instance, so many celebrities have been prematurely killed on social media due to fake news. The key is not to take it all hook, line, and sinker. Start by asking questions to encourage critical consumption. The 5 key concepts in media literacy is a good jump of point:
Credibility: Who created and sent the message? When? Check the integrity of the source. Are there any link backs or credible sources cited in the article? Who were quoted? Most importantly, check the URL. Is it a .com, .org, .net?
Cause/Purpose: Why was the message written or sent? Was it merely for information, entertainment, or persuasion? Is it an opinion
claiming to be a fact? Is the information relayed within the article verifiable?
Construction Format: What techniques were used to get my attention? Are there any loaded words that suggest a political slant or bias? Is the piece well-written or is it loaded with subject-verb agreement errors?
Critique Content: What lifestyles, values, or points of view are represented in or omitted from this message? Has the message been sponsored, sensationalized, “spin doctored”, or enriched with a political slant? Is it satirical or sarcastic? Is it a press release posing as real news?
Compare: How can other people interpret or understand this message differently from me? Examine that angle to see more perspectives then make an informed decision. Most of all, what do other credible news agencies say about this piece of information?
As much as media practitioners or sites can create fake news and memes, the biggest responsibility for sharing, promoting, and perpetuating fake news also falls on the news reader or consumer. Yes, that’s YOU and me. That’s why it is essential to filter information and produce content that is factual. That share and like button holds a lot of power. So please, share responsibly. With digital media, the power is now at your fingertips. In a sea of fake, let’s all still strive to keep it real! Think before you click.
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With portable gadgets, information is now easily accessible any place at any time. Consumers must be more discerning about the things they access. Think before you click!